Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.

N4T Investigators: Local mining project gets accelerated by federal program, some fear impacts

  • Updated
  • 0
hwy 82

PATAGONIA, Ariz. (KVOA) - Some residents of Sonoita and Patagonia tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators they are more worried about the possible impacts of a massive mining project in the Patagonia Mountains that has just been put on a special federal program to try and speed up production.

The Hermosa Mine is operated by Australian company South32 and has long been a controversial topic in the small Santa Cruz County communities near the mine.

This month it was the first project added to the Biden Administration FAST41 program which will help speed up the permitting process, cutting the time in half potentially.

The N4T Investigators previously shared concerns some residents have of the expected mine traffic once it becomes fully operational around 2030.

South32 released a traffic study that was done that indicated in 2030 they expect to have around 208 heavy vehicle trips per day.

Dr. Marion Hayden Sears live part time in Sonoita and is worried about the potential damage the activity could have on scenic highways 82 and 83. He and his wife recently took a tour of the Hermosa mine, which will be one of the few American mines to produce materials needed for electric cars.

"I am absolutely amazed at the engineering," he said.

But that's where his amazement ends. Dr. Sears worried about wildlife and disrupting the tranquil peace and quite that draws many people like him to the area.

"I think if we're going to pursue things we need for progress we need to do our very best to also pursue with the same vigor and the same passion the preservation of things we all need," he said.

South32 has already begun work on a promised new road to try and get mine related traffic away from Patagonia but it wont guarantee that trucks will avoid highway 82 and 83 through Sonoita.

Dr. Sears is considering selling his home, he fears the risk of a hazardous material spill if an accident were to happen.

"If something happens how toxic are they and how long will effect the environment and what would it take to remove it?" he questions.

A spokesperson from South32 told us they are looking at many options to reduce impacts to residents such as using battery powered trucks to reduce noise, saying, "We are working closely with an independent community advisory panel, local officials, and other stakeholders to develop the project responsibly and in a way that benefits local communities now and for generations to come."


If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

Recommended for you