Resolution Copper postpones meeting on tailings, holds forums on mine operations and water

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By Mila Besich Lira

Resolution Copper has announced that it will be rescheduling its community forum regarding the tailings to Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Magma Club.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, Representatives Paul Gosar and Ann Kirkpatrick will discuss why the land exchange for the project is important and necessary. That meeting will be held at the Superior Junior Senior High School Multipurpose room at 6 p.m.

Over the summer, Resolution Copper has hosted a series of informative meetings to educate the public on economic and environmental impacts that the project may create. Its last two forums were focussed on the block cave mining method and water use. Both forums were well attended and important issues were brought to light.

During the mining method forum several attendees asked why Resolution will not consider using the traditional cut and fill method of mining. Ian Edgar the General Manager of Studies for Resolution Copper conducted the forum and explained the various forms of mining from cut and fill, panel caving and open pit mining. He explained that the Resolution ore body is a porphyry deposit and that was one of the primary reasons block cave mining has been chosen.

Many still questioned why Resolution could not deploy the cut and fill method which was used in the Magma Mine. Edgar explained that the when Magma was operating they were mining veins of copper and not a porphyry. Edgar also explained that the block cave mining they are planning to do is safer and more economical for the project. The cut and fill mining used by Magma would be five to 10 times more expensive and also five to 10 times less efficient than than block cave mining.

Before the mine can even start working Resolution will need to construct 70 miles of total preproduction development. This development will include additional mining head frames/mine shafts, tunnels, ventilation and hoisting.

Edgar also explained that the block cave mining will cause some subsidence at Oak Flats but the subsidence will not hurt Apache Leap. “The subsidence will be predictable, measurable and controllable,” explained Edgar The presentation showed that the subsidence zone is at least 100 feet away from the Leap.

The following week Resolution Copper hosted a forum on the water use and local hydrology. Greg Ghidotti the Hydrology Manager for Resolution Copper gave a detailed presentation on how waters are managed in the Superior area as well as how the mine will work to conserve and treat the waters used at the mine. Ghidotti explained that since the initial studies have been done Resolution has been able to further reduce water use by 17 percent and they are currently evaluating other methods to conserve and reduce water use.

Resolution Copper will acquire the water needed for the project with three different methods. The first method to be used will be the dewatering of the mine, pumps will remove water from the mine and that will provide an estimated 1,842 acre feet per year.

The second method of acquiring water will be water banking. There are three steps to water banking, the first step is for Resolution Copper to purchase Central Arizona Project Water they then allow the farmers to use the CAP water instead of pumping it from the aquifer. This allows Resolution Copper to bank ground water for future use. The water will be banked in the nearby New Magma Irrigation district and the Hohokam Irrigation district near Casa Grande.

The third method that the company may utilize is purchasing annual allotments from existing CAP water owners. Currently Resolution Copper has banked 50 percent of its demand for water. The banked and CAP waters will be piped to the operation.

Ghidotti gave a detailed presentation on all the fault lines and aquifers in the area. He explained how those fault lines affect how the water flows. Many in opposition of the project have contended that the mine will affect the local ground water supply. Ghidotti explained that the aquifers serving Superior will not be affected by the mine project.

Recently well owners in Queen Valley have inquired with Resolution if there was any correlation with their wells running dry and the dewatering of the mine. Ghidotti explained that the wells running dry was due to the prolonged drought. Resolution has put many test wells throughout the area including Superior, Queen Valley and Hewitt Station Road to ensure that the project is not affecting local wells.

A resident from the San Carlos Indian Reservation asked if the Resolution Copper was going to affect water in San Carlos. Ghidotti explained that the mine will have no affect on the San Carlos reservation because those are different aquifers and there are many mountains between the project and San Carlos, which will keep the project from affecting San Carlos’s water.

Several residents including Councilmember Soyla Peralta asked questions about the water quality and if local water will be contaminated by the chemicals that come out of mining. Ghidotti explained that they will treat the contaminated water and any unsafe waste products will be kept out of the water supply. He encouraged everyone to attend the forum on tailings, the tailings forum will have more detailed information on how the company will protect the water and air from contamination.

Questions on the NEPA came up as well. Vicky Peacey the Senior Manager of Environmental and External Affairs confirmed that the NEPA process will begin once the Forest Service receives the Mine Plan of Operations. She explained that Resolution Copper expects to have the Mine Plan of Operations completed and submitted by the end of the year but it could be as soon as September or October.

To review the studies and reports conducted by Resolution Copper you can visit their website at: http://bit.ly/13BcAIr

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