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February 20, 2013

Groundhog Day (Again) for Resolution Copper?

As if reliving its own personal Groundhog Day time loop, Resolution Copper managed to have its 12th land exchange bill since 2005 (H.R. 687) introduced into the US House of Representatives last week, seeking to acquire land at Oak Flat, Arizona. A companion bill was also introduced in the US Senate.

And it’s no surprise that this 12th bill is identical to its predecessor.

The Oak Flat area has been protected from mining exploration for over fifty years because it contains fantastic recreational resources for rock climbers, hikers, birdwatchers, bikers, campers, and others. It is also a historically sacred site to many Native Americans, including the local San Carlos Apache tribe.


LittleEnglandWall_300dpi

All twelve of these bills that Resolution Copper has introduced have been remarkably similar and have all failed to become law. Perhaps Resolution Copper would benefit from taking a page out of Phil Connors’ book (famously depicted by Bill Murray in the classic comedy Groundhog Day), and rethink its priorities, considering a more socially responsible plan for the Oak Flat mine.

Much of the current opposition to their new mine would disappear if they would simply propose a non-subsidence mining technique that protects the recreational and cultural resources at Oak Flat.

Crater
RCM likens the scale of eventual subsidence caused by their mine at Oak Flat to Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona.

Resolution must fundamentally change its way of thinking in order to get a land exchange bill passed. And economic modeling by PhD mining experts indicates that non-subsidence mining by Resolution would be financially viable. It’s simply untrue that destructive mining techniques such as block caving must be employed to profitably mine the copper ore under Oak Flat. Resolution should be willing to compromise on this point in exchange for being allowed to mine beneath this valuable piece of land that was specifically set aside for protection. 

Only then will they escape this perpetual loop of failed land exchange bills.

Learn more about the fight to save Oak Flat.

Comments

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Thanks for the update. I spent several great years exploring and developing new lines in Devils Canyon back in the late 90s, and my wife and I returned recently to volunteer in the Tonto National Forest and knock off some long-standing projects. Queen Creek, Apache Leap, and Devils' Canyon are some of America's most amazing climbing areas, and the collusion between Arizona delegates and foreign mining interests is disgusting and heartbreaking.

I found it all too predictable that Resolution first announced plans for hundreds of layoffs to create a panic atmosphere in the local population. When that didn't work, they increased the number of rigs drilling around Oak Flats, increased activity on the east side of Devils Canyon, and now have re-submitted a proposition that involves destroying a historical landmark, an amazing part of Arizona's geography, and a landmark site in Arizona and U.S. climbing history.

Queen Creek, King Crown Peak, Apache Leap and Devils Canyon represent another generation of new climbs and climbers. If the hunters, horsemen, ranchers, mountain bikers and, most importantly, the rock climbers of Arizona could just stop feuding over meaningless differences and the half-remembered slights of decades past, take a time out from updating Facebook and Twitting, sack up, and unite, the rest of the nation would join them in preserving this amazing resource.

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