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The “Neverending Story” of red tape, roadblocks for mining in Arizona

Authorities in Pima County, Ariz., have denied an air quality permit application submitted by Rosemont Copper as part of its efforts to open a new mine southeast of Tucson. Claiming the company failed to provide proper documentation, the county’s Air Quality Control district delivered the denial on Thursday, September 29.

Rosemont Copper submitted its proposal for the project in 2007 with hopes that the permitting process would be long concluded by now, especially given that it would provide a boon to the ailing local economy. Yet, it took until this summer – four years later – for the U.S. Forest Service to issue its preliminary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which lead the Inside Tucson Business editorial board to lament in June that “a process that was supposed to take a year to 18 months has taken four years.”

While Pima County’s permit denial likely won’t impact the federal permitting process – which finally appears to be on track with the completion of the U.S. Forest Service’s impact statement – it is exemplary of the myriad roadblocks and bureaucratic red tape that domestic mining projects face in the United States today.

In fact, according to a recent Behre Dolbear report, the U.S. has the worst-in-the-world ranking among mining nations when it comes to permitting times. Much of this fact is owed to the so-called “not in my backyard” mentality, which is morphing more and more into a dangerous form of environmental imperialism, to which, as a nation, we can’t afford to succumb.

  • Rporto

    My message is to the manager of the department that was supposed to provide proper documentation to Pima countys air quality control district. Copper mining is more than just filling availabe positions with warm bodies. You are at war againt “special intrest Groups”. Please man your battle stations with compitent people and establish accountability. My grandaughters employment in the industry will complete 6 generations in copper mining in my family in the great  state of AZ. I am currently on assignment in a third world country and the conditions here are 20 years behind us in the states. I expect incompitence and lack of accountability in a third world country, not in the US.