Public officials speak out on Resolution cutbacks

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Compiled by Mila Besich-Lira and Chase Kamp 

In the hours after the Resolution Copper announcement Copper Area News was able to gather many comments and written statements from local elected officials and the town of Superior as well as from those who have opposed the project.

Superior’s Interim Town Manager Rita Wentzel issued a statement that afternoon, “The Town of Superior Mayor, Council and Staff met with officials from Resolution Copper Mining this morning regarding their decisions to reduce funding and staff.

First and foremost, our hearts go out to those families who will be directly affected by the staffing cutbacks. We respect and appreciate their hard work and efforts toward a growing career for themselves and their families. Superior is a community that comes together and supports one another when times are difficult.

As with mining cut-backs in the past, we will all need to continue to work together toward a more positive future. While these circumstances are beyond our control, the Town is committed to work with all of our business partners for the betterment of our economic base.”

Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios in a written comment stated, “This is a direct result of our US Congress failing to take action. For seven years now, Resolution Copper has been pursuing a land exchange to begin mining the largest known supply of copper ore in North America. Congress has failed America and failed the people of Arizona and now 400 families are going to suffer their own ‘fiscal cliff’ – a layoff.

These are high-paying, high tech jobs that would help this country deliver a valuable global commodity to the world. Corporations can’t be expected to continue to explore, build and plan if Congress won’t do its part to remove the one obstacle standing in the way of progress. That said, my constituents are deeply grateful for the passage of Congressman Gosar’s bill during the last session.”

Congressman and newly elected Senator for the state of Arizona Jeff Flake provided his statement. “As if Congress needed any more urgency to pass this land exchange legislation, hopefully these 400 current jobs and thousands of potential jobs lost will send that message,” he wrote.

Newly elected officials also chimed in on the news. Congresswoman Elect Ann Kirkpatrick said “Today’s announcement from Resolution Copper will have a ripple effect across Arizona’s Copper Corridor. I’ve worked hard on past efforts to bring jobs to this region, and I understand that these cuts could devastate small communities like Superior, Globe, Miami, Kearny, Hayden and Winkelman. When a small community loses jobs, the hardship hits families, school districts, small businesses –just about everyone.

My staff and I are reaching out to civic and business leaders to assess this situation and determine next steps. I stand firmly with Arizona’s rural communities and small towns, which need good-paying jobs so families are empowered to stay there, live there and send their kids to good schools. My top priority is to bring jobs to our district so regions like the Copper Corridor can build a strong foundation for the future.”

Arizona Legislative District 8 Senator Elect Barbara McGuire commented, “The November 30 announcement of layoffs at Resolution Copper at Superior gives me great concern. Congressional gridlock and partisan games the past two years created another unfavorable consequence.

The world is in need of the copper. Resolution can produce and local communities of district 8 and the state are in need of the economic stimulus Resolution Copper will provide. As LD23 State Representative from 2007 – 2011, I advocated for Resolution Copper based on jobs and the attending economic development it brings.

I have recently been elected to the State Senate in the new LD 8 previously LD 23 where Resolution Copper is located.

I will continue to encourage the Arizona federal delegation to pursue progress on legislation and to support the measures necessary to expeditiously produce a positive solution, which will bring Resolution Copper on line sooner than later.”

Those groups who have opposed the project also provided comments. Rodger Featherstone, the director of the Arizona Mining Reforms Coalition explained, “Rio Tinto ought to be ashamed of themselves for using their workers as pawns to force through the land exchange at the end of this Congressional session. There’s good reasons that it hasn’t moved on the land exchange, because it’s a horrible piece of special interest legislation. For Rio Tinto to use their workers in such fashion is just beyond the pale.”

Chairman of the Retired Miners and Concerned Citizens Roy Chavez explained over the phone that their group is not opposed to mining, “It is what it is (the cutback situation) based on rules and laws. All we want is to see that the rules are followed”.

Chavez believes that the recent outcome of the Presidential election impacted Rio Tinto’s decision. Chavez also expressed his concerns that the town has not learned anything from the boom and bust cycles of the past noting,“It has been 30 years since the shut down in 1982 and what have we learned?We are still on the mine’s dime.”

Senator John McCain did not provide a direct comment to the Copper Area News, but the following statement was found on his website.

“The Resolution Copper land exchange is a top priority for the State of Arizona,” its passage requires the cooperation of the entire Arizona Congressional Delegation, and I call on my colleagues to join Senator Kyl, Congressman Gosar and myself in advocating for this legislation which is so important for job creation in our state.”

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