Resolution Copper wants to build a mine in Chich’il Bidagoteel, a sacred site for the Apache people near Superior, AZ. The land now sits on National Forest land. A long-running battle over Native American land rights has the project in a holding pattern. And residents are looking to Congress to have the final say. Resolution and its parent companies have been trying for a decade to trade 5,556 acres they already own for 2,406 acres of the Tonto National Forest, which sit above the massive ore body.
The project owned by foreign mining giants U.K.-based Rio Tinto and Australia-based BHP Billiton — says the mine would create 1,400 jobs and generate $61 billion over its 40-year lifespan, plus construction and clean-up time. Block-cave is a mining process that excavates a large amount of rock and leaves a mountain-sized void underground, making subsidence and collapse inevitable. It would extract enough copper to meet 25 percent of U.S. demand of about 1 billion pounds of copper a year. It would also extract about 132,000 tons of rock daily from the ore body, which is 7,000 feet below ground. It’s projected to produce 1.7 billion tons of waste tailings.
Mine opponents argue that Resolution is pushing the land exchange to avoid key environmental studies that are mandated for mining on public land. The Sierra Club fears the mine “is going to destroy the water table and the biodiversity that exists.”
Voices from Community Members:
Vernelda Grant, archeologist for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, has said “There is a deeply personal, spiritual and visceral relationship between Apaches and the land” and her Apache ancestors fought miners for centuries and died trying to protect “Mother Earth.”
Wendsler Nosie, Former chairman of the San Carlos Apache tribe, wrote in a letter sent to a US Forestry Service official, that mining is inconsistent with conservative, traditional Apache values. “We have been taught to respect the natural world, and to keep it clean and natural. Our traditional relationship with the land is deep and personal. We depend on the natural world for our survival, and our survival depends on maintaining our personal relationships with all living things,”
Nosie has also been quoted saying, “a return to the concept of “Mother Earth” for all Western peoples is ultimately the key to saving the planet.” He continued with,“We have to start deciding when enough is enough. I know Native people have a lot to offer if we are listened to. We know how to save this planet.”.
San Carlos point of contact: Vansler ‘Standing Fox’ at email@example.com