FactsFictions

Copper concentrate from Hudbay's Flin Flon operations

Correcting the Record: a fact check of claims about Rosemont

While we are excited about the Rosemont Project and all of the jobs and benefits it will provide, we know that not everyone is in support of Rosemont; we respect that view. Throughout the continuing 11+ year permitting process, though, claims have been made that are distorted and inaccurate. That doesn’t help anybody develop informed opinions about Rosemont.

Claim: Rosemont can pump an unlimited amount of water out of the aquifer

Fact: Rosemont is permitted to use no more than 6,000 acre-feet of water per year. Rosemont will deliver water to replace what it uses; the project will be net neutral on water use. This will be accomplished through the purchase, storage and recharge of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water. To date, we have purchased and stored at the Central Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project approximately 45,000 acre-feet. This represents more than eight years’ worth of water needed for operations. 

To recharge water back into the same part of the Tucson basin we will draw from, Rosemont will provide $28 million to help Community Water Company of Green Valley build an eight-mile-long pipeline and recharge facilities to bring CAP water to Green Valley.

Claim: Rosemont will contaminate 20% of Tucson's drinking water 

Fact: This claim is not supported by science. The Rosemont Project sits on land that makes up less than 0.5% of the watershed that contributes to the Tucson aquifer from the east. Water from the Rosemont Project site feeds the Tucson aquifer in a proportion that is similar to its size within the watershed – in other words, 0.5% of the water in the Tucson aquifer, at most, could come from land within the Rosemont site. 

Permits received from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) require that the groundwater not be degraded at monitoring wells around the perimeter of the facility. Monitoring must be completed quarterly at these point-of-compliance monitor wells and at more than 20 locations outside the perimeter of the facility, as required by the Forest Service. 

ADEQ has also certified that surface water will not be degraded by the activity at the site. If monitoring of stormwater detects a problem, it must be reported and action taken.

Claim: Billions of tons of toxic mine waste will be dumped against the mountains in piles 600 to 800 feet high 

Fact: Approximately 1.25 billion tons of waste rock (unprocessed, broken rock with low or no mineral or metal content) and tailings (finely ground material left after processing and the extraction of metals and minerals from ore) will be stored and contained at a distance of no less than one mile from the project site, east of the Santa Rita Mountains. No waste rock or tailings will be dumped against the mountains. 

Waste rock and tailings material testing has shown that there is no concentration of materials that could be toxic or is present in amounts incompatible with the surface or groundwater water quality standards set by ADEQ. 

The Coronado National Forest and ADEQ require ongoing geochemical testing and material placement to ensure both ground and surface water are protected throughout the life of the project and after closure.

Claim: Rosemont is owned by a foreign company and all profits will leave the USA

Fact: Rosemont is owned by Rosemont Copper Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hudbay Minerals Inc., an international company headquartered in Toronto, Canada. At present, around 48% of Hudbay’s shareholders are American. Grouped by country, U.S.-owned shares comprise the largest block held by investors. The company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Rosemont will provide significant employment for Arizonans, as do many other companies headquartered in Canada. According to the Canada Arizona Business Council, Canadian companies have 1,400 locations in Arizona employing 28,800+ workers. 

Like many American companies operating in other countries, Hudbay is an international company, with significant current and historic ties to the United States. The company first traded on the NYSE in 1938 and was founded in 1927 in large part by C.V. Whitney, the American financier, philanthropist, sportsman and government official. Whitney served as chairman until 1964. New York-born Roscoe Channing, a former Princeton halfback and one of Teddy Roosevelt’s legendary Rough Riders, served as president of the company for many decades before retiring to Tucson in 1957.

Claim: The Rosemont Project will negatively affect State Route 83 and make it unsafe to travel 

Fact: During construction, there may be intermittent traffic impacts caused by deliveries to the site. In the long term, however, activity at Rosemont will have no effect on the normal flow of traffic. Traffic impacts from the Rosemont Project were evaluated in the EIS process. This analysis and recommendations from the Arizona Department of Transportation to improve travel conditions were incorporated into the final EIS. The recommendations include funding for extra pavement, guardrails and bus pullouts. There will also be turn lanes incorporated at the project entrance that will reduce traffic impacts. Finally, Rosemont has committed to bussing employees to site, which will minimize traffic on the road and reduce air emissions. 

Claim: Rosemont will leave a big hole in the ground that will not be backfilled 

Fact: Backfilling the mine pit after production was examined during the EIS process. It was determined that the activities necessary for backfilling would cause more environmental degradation and safety concerns than leaving the pit open. Backfilling also eliminates the natural hydrologic sink that helps protect the environment from seepage in the event that calculations regarding the waste rock or tailings facilities prove to be incorrect. 

The mine pit will be an engineered structure designed and constructed to protect workers. The Forest Service requires monitoring to ensure there is no failure of high walls or slippage that may put the ridgeline in jeopardy; this will help to maintain the visual characteristics of the mountain range.

Claim: Rosemont will have an adverse effect on endangered species including the jaguar 

Fact: Scientific analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that while the project may have an effect on endangered species, it will not jeopardize the existence of 12 species living in and around the mine site.

This was determined after Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service completed a reinitiated Section 7 Consultation regarding endangered species. The finding, reported in April 2016, is consistent with the initial Biological Opinion issued in December 2013 in the Final EIS document. Rosemont will perform monitoring and provide money for conservation funds that will ensure effects fall within those predicted by the Biological Opinion. The document further stated that many of the mine’s negative impacts on species will be mitigated by a host of measures, including habitat upgrade and removal of invasive species.

Claim: The Rosemont Project will leave behind a toxic lake that will poison wildlife 

Fact: The Environmental Impact Statement found that the water in the pit will meet drinking water quality standards for all constituents except for thallium. Review of the pit lake geochemistry and predictions is required every five years using updated geochemical, hydrologic, and geologic data to ensure that predictions do not change. At closure, Rosemont will coordinate with the Forest Service to develop management plans to protect wildlife if impacts from the pit lake water are likely to occur.

Claim: The Rosemont Project will destroy the Santa Rita Mountains 

Fact: The Rosemont Project impact area encompasses approximately 5,420 acres, less than 5% of the Santa Rita Mountain range, which is roughly 138,760 acres. When the project is completed, more than 85% of the impacted acreage will be reclaimed for recreational, grazing and other compatible uses. 

Claim: Rosemont has not been thoroughly studied. It requires more analysis, and the EIS process is flawed

Fact: An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), through the National Environmental Policy Act, is one of the most rigorous review processes that exist. The project has been under review by various agencies for over 11 years (since July 2007), beginning with the initial Mine Plan of Operations. Since that time, there have been over 1,000 studies conducted that have looked at possible impacts on the surrounding environment, including biological resources, traffic, water, light and air. 

Claim: Rosemont will use strip mining in its operations 

Fact: This is untrue. Rosemont will be an open pit mine. Open pit mines don’t rely on strip mining techniques.

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