By Zach Richter Southeast Valley Ledger
Despite local opposition and the best efforts of the group Protect Our Water our Future, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) granted Curis Resource the Aquifer Protection Permit [APP] required for the company to move forward with Phase 1 of the in-situ copper mine the Florence Copper Project on Sept. 28, 2012.
“The receipt of our Phase 1 operating permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is a key milestone for the company as we look forward to the start of construction and development of the Florence Copper Project,” said Michael McPhie, Curis President and CEO in a press release regarding the permit.
The Southeast Valley Ledger spoke with Rita Maguire, Senior Legal and Government Affairs Advisor to Curis Resources about what the permitting means for the project and a tentative start date for Phase 1. She explained that the ADEQ permit has been issued though there is a public comment period before it is finalized.
“This permit is a critical milestone, next the ADEQ will begin its formal comment and hearing process where they will take public comment and then issue the final permit,” Maguire said. “The ADEQ won’t issue the permit at all unless we meet all of their requirements; they believe the [in-situ] process is safe.”
Maguire went on to note that the dates of the public comment meetings will be announced by the end of Oct., “The second part of the permitting process is the EPA’s underground injection permit,” she continued. “It’s been in process form many months…we’re hopeful the permit will be issued by the end of the year.”
Assuming everything goes according to plan, Maguire believes the Florence Copper Project will be up and running in its testing phase in the spring of 2013.
“Things are really moving forward, we’re actively remodeling offices and Curis is hiring new people and moving forward with vendors and contractors,” she said. “What the ADEQ has done is grant a temporary [APP] for two years on a small scale…all the data will go to the ADEQ and the EPA demonstrating this process can operate exactly as we expect.”
While Curis and the ADEQ are confidant in-situ mining is safe, the organization known as Protect Our Water our Future is confidant they know better. The Southeast Valley Ledger reached out to the group and received a statement from group spokesperson Justin Merritt.
“We knew the APP permit was going to be issued, that is why we filed the complaint along with Pulte Homes and Johnson Utilities, over a week ago,” he wrote. “In our opinion foreign owned Curis Resources is requesting a temporary permit for long term commercial use, which is totally inappropriate.”
“This is an end-run around the will of the residents of Florence who have repeatedly expressed that they don’t want a mine located in the middle of their town, injecting acid into the community’s water supply,” Merritt continued. If granted, this emergency action would circumvent two previous council votes opposing the untested mine; put the communities’ water resources at risk, and trample the Town’s general plan.”
For more information of these organizations, their claims, rebuttals and what they are doing next visit them online. Protect Our Water Our Future, can be seen at ProtectOurWaterOurFuture.com and more information on the Florence Copper Project is available at FlorenceCopperProject.com.
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