Sep 30, 2011 2:08 AM
TUCSON - After years of preparation and constant debate the Rosemont Copper mine appears to be dead in the water.
The mine was planned to be built southwest of Tucson just west of Highway 83. It was expected to bring in billions of dollars for the local economy and add thousands of jobs, but critics said it would have been a disaster for the environment.
Thursday the Pima County Air Quality Control District denied Rosemont Copper's application saying it failed to provide information showing it could comply with state and federal air quality regulations.
The decision has one side that's furious and one side that's in total celebration mode.
The idea of turning building the copper mine where Rosemont Copper wanted had environmentalists throwing fits. Now groups like Save the Scenic Santa Rita's said their fighting paid off.
Roger Featherstone is with the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and Save the Scenic Santa Rita's. He said, "Pima County I think is doing its job to protect the health and safety of citizens of Pima County. It's clear that people don't want this thing."
Rosemont Copper is sticking to its guns saying it covered all the bases and the mine wouldn't hurt the environment. Rod Pace the CEO of Rosemont Copper said, "Rosemont Copper is a 21st century mine. We're following all the rules and regulations, in fact if you look at some of the things we're doing they're completely different than some of the old mines are."
The people with Rosemont Copper aren't the only ones mad. Some small businesses also stand to be hurt by this decision, particularly construction companies.
Steve Maracigan is with Empire Southwest, the local Caterpillar supplier. He said, "This is a ripple effect to caterpillar and its continued venders that poised across the country. We have departments here that are directly affected by mining and over 60% of business is mining because construction is down so much."
He said not to mention all the jobs the mine itself would bring, but environmentalists said as great as having more jobs would be it's not enough to make this a good idea.
Gayle Hartmann is the President of the Save the Scenic Santa Rita's. She said, "400 jobs for 20 years is just nothing compared to all the negative impacts that would just go on forever."
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias said, "I would say no it's not dead, but this is a serious blow to Rosemont and their efforts."
And he's right, it's not totally dead. In fact Rosemont Copper said it's far from over. They could appeal the decision, but the CEO said they've already filed a lawsuit against the county so they'll push for that. If they win everything could change and the mine could be back on.