U.S. House tables vote on Resolution Copper land swap bill

Date of publication: 
14 November 2013

As Rio Tinto and BHP move ahead to permit the Resolution Copper project, the U.S. House stalls on a vote to approve a controversial land swap to accommodate the development.

RENO (MINEWEB) – As the U.S. House did not conduct a scheduled vote Wednesday on the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona declared the setback “will not discourage me from my continued fight for this important Arizona jobs bill.”

The federal land exchange would open one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper resources, the Resolution Copper Project near Superior, Arizona. The mine would create more than 3,700 local jobs, generate more than $61.4 billion in economic activity over mine life and could supply 25% or more of U.S. copper needs.

At full production, the mine is expected to generate one billion pounds of copper annually.

The mine has literally been under development for years.

Rio Tinto spokesman David Luff said Rio Tinto is set to submit a mine plan for the Resolution Copper joint venture with BHP Billiton to the U.S. Forest Service this week. However, development of the mine depends on the land swap first proposed eight years ago, but opposed by environmental and Native American groups. The exchange involves high-value conservation property Resolution owns for 2,400 acres in the Oak Flat area of the Tonto National Forest—land which the San Carlos Apache Tribe considers sacred.

“The San Carlos Apache leadership has lied to and mislead other tribal leaders across the nation about this project,” said Gosar in a news release. “Polls show the majority of San Carlos tribal members support the mine and the jobs. Their tribal leadership is out of touch with its own people.”

However, opponents contend the swap would harm recreational and rock-climbing areas and threaten the water supply for the Phoenix area, along with much of the state.

Among the measure’s supporters are Arizona’s two U.S. senators and two representatives. The state has eight congressional districts including that of Rep. Raul Grijalva, who is strongly opposed to the swap.

Rio and BHP have already spent $1 billion on shaft development and drilling, but have reduced project spending by 755 this year to $50 million, Reuters reported. The companies said they would focus this year on securing the land swap and permitting for the project.


Rio Tinto, BHP a step closer to open US largest copper mine

Cecilia Jamasmie – http://www.mining.com/rio-tinto-bhp-a-step-closer-to-open-us-largest-cop...

12 November 2013

The Morenci mine, in Southeast Arizona, may soon lose its status as one of North America’s largest producer of copper.

Resolution Copper Co., a US-based company owned by giants Rio Tinto and BHP, is fine tuning details to submit a plan to the federal government this week, which will detail how it would run what it could be North America’s largest copper mine.

Based in Arizona’s famous Copper Corridor, the Resolution Copper mine is currently in its pre-feasibility stage. The plan, to be presented to the U.S. Forest Service on Friday, is only the first step in a lengthy environmental review of the vast mine by the federal government.

According to USA Today, Resolution Copper —a 55%-45% joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP— is expected to present a step-by-step strategy on how it plans to mine the copper ore, dispose of tailings and other waste, and bring water to the site.

The ore body the company seeks to mine is a deep-seated porphyry copper deposit located under the now inactive Magma Mine. Rio has reported an inferred resource of 1.624 billion tonnes containing 1.47 per cent copper, at depths exceeding 1,300 metres.

BHP Billiton bought Magma Copper in 1996 for $3.2 billion. The group’s San Manual copper smelter in Arizona was considered to be the jewel in the crown, but barely three years later BHP was forced to put it on care and maintenance and then shut it down completely in 2003.

Closure costs added another $800 million to the world’s number one miner’s most disastrous acquisition to date. Rio Tinto became the joint venture partner on Resolution Copper as a result of these write-offs.

Since 2005 Resolution Copper has been trying to arrange a land swap deal with the federal government to start mining. So far, eleven versions of a land-exchange bill have been introduced in Congress.

If approved, the mine is expected to create 3,700 direct and indirect jobs and bring $61.4 billion in economic benefits to Arizona.

Copper output from the mine, to begin production in 2021, is projected to meet 25% of the internal demand.