FLORENCE – The Pinal County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to support a resolution to urge the United States House and Senate to recognize the Resolution Copper Company for its efforts to build a copper mine near Superior.
Next week, the House Energy and Minerals Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on seven mining bills. One of the seven bills includes H.R. 687 entitled “Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013” sponsored by Representatives Paul Gosar and Ann Kirkpatrick.
H.R. 687 would exchange land owned by Resolution Copper with federal land near Superior. The swap would allow Resolution to begin the process of obtaining permits to open an underground mine.
During public comment for the resolution, twelve speakers addressed the Supervisors – ten spoke in favor, two opposed.
In offering a motion for a favorable vote, District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios (whose district includes the land in question), said that he has supported this project since the beginning.
“These people (residents of Superior) know mining, they have never feared mining, it is ingrained in them,” Rios said. “The big question before everyone is: do we do the land swap and then begin the environmental studies, or vice versa.”
District 2 Supervisor Cheryl Chase, who was a nurse for ASARCO, said that Resolution Copper has kept local elected leaders apprised of their operations.
“I’ve known about this project since I was in the legislature,” Chase said. “They have kept us and the people in the loop. What this really boils down to is local control for the residents in the area.”
Chairman Steve Miller said there is a need to get the land exchange passed through Congress.
“I have supported this project for years,” Miller stated. “It was sad to see the land exchange resolution die in the Senate last year. Now we have to bring it up again in the House. We really need this project.”
District 4 Supervisor and Vice-Chairman Anthony Smith said that the proposed land exchange has grass roots support and the need to pass it is important for the county.
“This project is of vital importance to the county, the state and the nation,” Smith said. “We need to embrace this project-52 percent of Pinal County people leave this county to go to work, we need to stop that.”
District 5 Supervisor Todd House said that support for the project is growing in his district.
“I recently attended a meeting in Queen Valley,” House said. “Many of those people were initially not in support of the land exchange. But once the issues were brought up, they seem to be changing their minds and supporting this project.”