WASHINGTON – On Monday, the Biden administration rescinded its approval for the proposed Resolution Copper mine, just days before it was to transfer thousands of acres of federal land for the project.
The Department of Agriculture said it ordered the rescission to allow for a “thorough review based on significant input from collaborators, partners and the public” after the January release of a final environmental impact statement on the project.
Gov. Doug Ducey said he was “extremely disappointed” in the reversal.
“Undoing lengthy, comprehensive, and already-completed federal environmental studies on a whim with the changing of federal administrations doesn’t work,” Ducey said. “This type of activity threatens an untold number of major projects in Arizona and around the country.”
The proposed mine was expected to generate up to 1,450 jobs for workers who would receive $149 million in compensation annually. He said it could be worth about $1 billion a year in direct and indirect economic impact for the state.
Under a congressionally approved swap the federal government would have given 2,422 acres of copper-rich land to Resolution Copper in exchange for 5,459 acres of other land in southeast Arizona.
Critics say the deal would have violated the land known as Oak Flat, however as part of the deal, Resolution Copper would have maintained public access to areas within Oak Flat including the campground and recreational trails and climbing, after completion of the land exchange mandated by bipartisan legislation that passed Congress in 2014.
Resolution Copper had planned to work with a local small business part-owned by members of an Arizona Native American Tribe to maintain the campground areas infrastructure and access trails.
“I am very disappointed in the Biden Administration’s decision to halt Arizona’s bipartisan supported Resolution Copper project previously cleared by President Trump. This project would have created nearly 4,000 well-paying jobs and added more than $60 billion in economic value in Arizona,” said Congressman Paul Gosar.
“The project underwent lengthy and comprehensive environmental studies spanning the two previous administrations, yet Mr. Biden once again ignores sound science, wipes out thousands of more jobs and discounts the significance this copper mine is to clean energy, our electrical grid, solar panels, wind turbines and hundreds of other needs,” continued Gosar.
“There is nothing sacred about this property. This is mining land first and foremost. The tribal historian confirmed that in 2011. Additionally, the Forest Service conducted hundreds of consultations with Native American tribes and the town of Superior about how best to proceed,” concluded Gosar.