TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A Canadian-based mining company said it has found significant copper deposits on the western part of the Santa Rita Mountains, potentially warranting open pit mining near residents south of Tucson.
Hudbay Minerals Inc. said Wednesday that drilling at its Copper World deposits found higher copper grades closer to the surface than were found at its adjacent Rosemont Mine east of the southern Arizona mountain range, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
“Copper World has the potential to host at least four economic deposits” separate from or an enhancement to the $2 billion project at the Rosemont Mine, said Cashel Meagher, company senior vice president.
The four deposits are on private land owned by the company and obtained from the federal government through patented mining claims. If more copper mines are discovered, business leaders and outside investors expect the mines to bring more high-paying jobs to the region.
But residents near the mountain range in Green Valley, Quail Creek and Sahuarita have expressed concerns about the potential project, the visibility of mining operations and already declining groundwater supplies.
Andre Lauzon, Hudbay’s Arizona business unit vice president, told the Green Valley News that it is likely that some parts of the mine and its operations would be visible from Green Valley and Sahuarita.
“What and how much will be visible depends on the future mine plan and the scale of a new project,” Lauzon said.
Environmental engineer Charles Stack, who is a resident of Quail Creek, said people paid a lot of money to move into upscale suburbs and are not going to be happy with the view. He also noted that no modern infrastructure exists in the area to support copper mining.
“Mining on the western flank of the Santa Ritas would require substantial upgrades to regional transportation and utilities, and it is doubtful that sufficient recoverable copper in these claims could support mining activity,” Stack said.
Sahuarita Mayor Tom Murphy congratulated the company on its discovery, saying he has supported the Rosemont Mine since it was proposed more than a decade ago.
Hudbay must now conduct additional drilling and completion of a feasibility study before it can file mining proposals with government agencies. The company has not yet announced a timetable.