Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shining a Light on Rosemont Copper's "Good Citizen" Gambit

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 1:03 PM

Sure, Rosemont Copper plans to dig a huge hole in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, extract copper for 20 years, then fill up the hole* and close up shop, but that's not what the company is really about. It's about being a good citizen and giving back to the community. How do I know? Just ask Rosemont Copper.

Like a politician during campaign season touring his district with a smile on his face and a pocket full of walking-around money, Rosemont has been seeding its goodwill campaign by supporting dozens of community programs. The Partnership page on its website lists its largesse which includes, among many other organizations, El Tour de Tucson, Arizona Deaf & Blind Children’s Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Casa De Los Ninos, Tohono Chul Park, Tucson Values Teachers—and my favorite, Biosphere 2 Earth Day, because nothing says "Save the Earth" like a copper mine in the middle of a pristine desert. The web page refers to these gifts as "Lasting Partnerships Within the Community." How long they'll last, however, is up to Rosemont.

Rosemont's good-citizen commitment to Maintaining Arizona's Dark Skies gives an indication of how seriously we should take what it says. 
Rosemont has made a commitment to the community to voluntarily comply with the Pima County Outdoor Lighting Code.
It's important that Rosemont goes along with the Pima County lighting code voluntarily because it may not be bound by county ordinances, according to an article in today's Star.
Hudbay [Rosemont’s parent company] director of environment Katherine Ann Arnold told county officials state law does not allow local jurisdictions to “restrict or otherwise regulate the use or occupation of land or improvements for railroad, mining, metallurgical, grazing or general agricultural purposes.”

Arizona law says the state mine inspector regulates mine activity, not county ordinances, Arnold wrote.
The Star article says Rosemont has already backed off on its voluntary compliance with Dark Skies regulations, and as a result, Pima County is suing. 

My advice to all those "partners" who Rosemont has given a helping hand. Don't expect much more than a middle finger once the copper mine has its license to dig. The company has already told Pima County what it thinks of its commitment to preserve southern Arizona's dark skies.

* UPDATE/CORRECTION: I've been informed by a few knowledgeable people that my statement that Rosemont Copper plans to "fill up the hole" when it's finished is incorrect — that the hole will stay after the mining is finished and permanently alter the landscape. They are correct. I regret the error.

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