Listen to the Experts, Not the Mayor: A Response to “Resolution Copper Needs to Move Forward – With Permits in Place”

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By Leslie Glass

Mayor Besich loves her hometown and community and believes that Resolution Copper (RC) will bring mining jobs and prosperity back to Superior. She weaves a colorful tapestry of comingled threads of love of Superior, it’s mining history, magical landscapes and environmental protection by a foreign mining company whose notorious reputation precedes it.

One will no longer be able to claim the “magic of Superior’s way of life being felt” from Superior’s surrounding mountains, canyons, trails, rock climbing, and waterfalls” when the magic has subsided into a two mile long, 1,000 feet deep crater, void of life, water and magic. All that makes the Chi’chil Bildagoteel Historic District feel magical will be gone. The once majestic cliffs of consecrated Apache Leap will be desecrated and replaced with grief.

She speaks of the “economic mining DNA” & “healthy respect and clear understanding for the challenges that the boom and bust cycles of mining have created…” She is blinded by her glimmers of hope that Superior can return to the boom days of its past, misled by exaggerations of jobs & long-term economic growth.

“Resolution will boast new jobs focused on robotics and other innovations that will make this the most sophisticated, advanced and environmentally-sensitive mine in the United States.” Automation will reduce the number of blue-collar jobs, and nothing about this mine is environmentally sensitive.

According to the study prepared for the San Carlos Apache Tribe by Power Consulting, Exaggerating the Net Economic Benefits of the Proposed Resolution Copper Mine: A Critical Review of Resolution’s Economic Impact Analysis” indicates “only about 4% of mineral value would flow to local residents in terms of wages.” It states, “highly skilled workers will likely operate the mine remotely”. “As the Town of Superior has discovered, Resolution’s hiring of hundreds of workers did not lead to declining unemployment rates. Instead, unemployment numbers and rates skyrocketed as more people moved in than there were jobs available. The region surrounding the proposed Resolution Mine has more than a century of history with copper mining. That has not been a history of sustained prosperity and economic vitality. There are important lessons to be learned from that experience that should inform public decisions about the proposed Resolution Mine.”

The mayor hasn’t learned from the past and forgets Superior’s mining tragedies and lives prematurely ended by accidents, cave-ins, explosions, cancer & other illnesses caused by living in a toxic mining environment. Lives can’t be brought back, but lives can be saved by making wise choices for the future.

The tourism industry brings in more money than mining. Why destroy a perpetual sustainable tourism/recreation economy for a foreign mining interests that will obliterate this clean and sustainable industry? They won’t be paying royalties, and will ship the copper ore to China. Not a fair trade. A mining town is not a tourist destination. Nobody wants to recreate in or near toxic mine contamination. A dead crater serves only a painful reminder of intent and sacrifice for foreign profit.

“Mining can be done responsibly while protecting the environment and the beautiful landscape that we love and cherish”, she said.  There wouldn’t be 100,000 toxic abandoned mines, mining ghost towns, cancerous communities & contaminated depleted water sources throughout AZ if that were true.

 “Arizona’s Copper Corridor is the equivalent of Yukon gold.” Considering the Apaches were nearly exterminated for copper ore & mineral deposits since 1852, Arizona’s genocidal history, the original dispossession of this land for the mining industry, and the survivors should be in the Mayor’s conscience. Her visions of prosperity for her superior city on the hill, shining like Yukon gold in the setting sun, make her unable to see beyond her city limits or the consequences for future generations. She only sees her people in her town.

Most disturbing is that she doesn’t see the continuation of generational trauma inflicted upon the Apache people by the mining industry, AZ & US Government.

I don’t have mining-DNA, but I know Arizona’s brutal mining history. History should be learned, not repeated. Human life and water are priceless. The toxic and environmentally destructive nature of mining industry is consequential to life, water & environment.

The importance of the Chi’chil Bildagoteel Historic District, as one of the last remaining riparian areas in Arizona, and its rich historical, archaeological, cultural significance is beyond compare. Its sacredness and interconnectedness to God is of vital importance in the spirituality and religion of our Indigenous relatives. Life, people, water, religion, integrity and truth all matter more than money.

I made a conscientious decision to do what is right. I retired years early from a 27-yr. USDA career to dedicate my life to stop this. The egregious way the land exchange was passed into law is unforgivable & repulsive. To give away that which is Sacred to foreign mining interests over American people’s lives is incomprehensible. This land is the ancestral homelands of the Apache people and has been held sacred to them since time immemorial.

Not ONCE, did she mention the Apache people who will be irreparably traumatized. Their loss cannot be mitigated, not through consultation, a Tribal monitoring program, Apache Leap Management Area or by planting Emory oak trees a hundred miles away. The crater alone desecrates this consecrated holy sacred land, period.

I will also correct the mayor on her use of the word Sacred. Sacred – connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration. Chi’chil Bildagoteel is Sacred. Mining work is not.

I urge the mayor, read the testimonies, watch the hearing, The Irreparable Environmental and Cultural Impacts of the Proposed Resolution Copper Mining Operation. Due diligence, beyond a prestigious seat at the RC table, might open her eyes to the truth hidden in the shade.

Superior’s former mayor, council member, town manager, & chair of Concerned Citizens & Retired Miners Coalition. Roy Chavez, a life-long 3rd generation miner, said he would fight this mine to the day he died. He held the best interests of his beloved Superior until death by COVID in 2020. His wisdom lives in his testimony before Congress.

Steven H. Emerman, Ph.D., 31 yrs. teaching hydrology & geophysics and 40+ yrs. studying and working on issues of groundwater & mining. During his testimony, he said, “I am not anti-mining by any stretch, but this is the worst mining project I have ever encountered.”

He talked about 4 things:  underestimation of water consumption; underestimation of electricity consumption; the extent of the crater and its impact on Apache Leap; and the catastrophic danger to the communities downstream from the tailings dam. “It’s not a question of if the tailings dam will fail, but when.” “It should make you stop and think that we are seriously discussing a mine project in Arizona that would be illegal, even in China.”  In tears he said, “My recommendation is, don’t do it. Don’t let this project go forward.”

Equally compelling are testimonies of James Wells, PhD, Environmental Geologist; Kevin Allis, CEO, National Congress of American Indians; Dr. Wendsler Nosie Sr. and Naelyn Pike, San Carlos Apache.

The mayor said, “if these opposition groups are successful, they will have opened up “Pandora’s box”

I say, it’s not the opposition opening Pandora’s box.

Staff (5776 Posts)

There are news or informational items frequently written by staff or submitted to the Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner, Superior Sun, Pinal Nugget or Oracle Towne Crier for inclusion in our print or digital products. These items are not credited with an author.

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