Thursday, December 22, 2016

San Carlos Apache Tribe, environmentalists battle Oak Flat copper mine bid

Oak Flat, a desert landscape and 90-minute drive from Phoenix, lies in the midst of an environmental and economic controversy. Members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe revere the federally owned land as sacred. Environmentalists consider it a sanctuary for wildlife and vegetation. Climbers, hikers and campers gravitate to Oak Flat for outdoor recreation. And Resolution Copper Co. covets the rich veins of copper running below the surface of Oak Flat. In December 2014, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized Resolution, a Phoenix-based affiliate of foreign mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, to perform mining operations in Oak Flat in exchange for other land in Arizona. In addition to a mining operation, Resolution proposed a land exchange. The company will give land it currently owns to public land managers, like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, in exchange for the land that rests above the copper stores. The Resolution parcels are scattered across the state near places like Payson, Cave Creek and Mammoth and total about 5,300 acres. After the swap, Resolution would get about 2,400 acres of land, including Oak Flat, according to the forest service...more

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