Superior business owners talk Resolution mutual benefits agreement

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xPhoto Mar 17, 9 06 19 AM.jpg

By Chase Kamp

Superior Sun

Superior business owners say the town council’s decision to reject its mutual benefits agreement with Resolution Copper makes them concerned about potential impacts to their business.

The Town voted last month to dismiss its agreement with the local copper company, citing what many on the council said were unfair clauses and requirements. The Town also revoked its support for the federal Southeast Arizona Land Exchange bill that would facilitate the copper project.

Mario Sanchez works for Superior Environmental Solution, which is contracted by Resolution Copper among other mining companies. “Obviously that would affect us, if one of our clients had a reduced scope” if the Resolution project were to depart, he said. “They’ve been a great business partner for us.”

Former mayor Michael Hing, co-owner of Save Money Mart, said he was not happy with how the council handled the situation. “If the Town was seeking a better deal, if there were problems with the agreement, that’s fine,” he said. “But don’t vote it out.”

He said he fears for the future of Superior. “I might have to tell my kids there isn’t a future in this business,” he said.

More recently, the Superior Town Council held a special meeting Wednesday, Mar. 13, to pass a resolution expressing opposition to the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange Act, which was passed unanimously.

The agenda included an executive session to discuss the response from Resolution Copper Mining to terminate the agreement and discuss the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013. The council did not vote to go into the executive session and instead handled the business on the agenda in open meeting.

The council also unanimously passed a resolution to send a representative to Washington to voice the council’s opposition to the land exchange. Councilmembers said the move was prompted by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors unanimously voting in favor of a letter of support for the bill.

Resolution Copper Communications Manager Bruce Richardson said he and the company was disappointed in the town’s actions in a written statement. “It represents a major setback to the progress we have made with the bill and the bi-partisan efforts of our Arizona delegation to move this land exchange forward,” he wrote. “It also represents a setback to the good partnership and working relationship we have had with the town.”

Richardson argued the council’s decision does not reflect the voice of the majority of residents in Superior, who have relied on mining as a critical industry in the area.

“We remain perplexed by the Town’s recent actions since the issues it raised concerning the language of the land exchange bill and the Mutual Benefits Agreement could easily have been addressed without terminating the agreement with us last month or by taking this even more divisive and destructive action,” Richardson continued. “The Council’s decision is not constructive at a time when what is needed most is meaningful dialogue and helpful solutions.”

Hing said that no matter what happens, his family will persevere. “Our family has been here since the 1920s,” he said. “We’ve seen the ups and downs of the mine. We survive.”

xPhoto Mar 17, 9 08 13 AM.jpg

Townspeople organize rally in support of Resolution Copper Mining. (Mila Besich-Lira photo)

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