Patagonia Mining Threats
Patagonia Area Mining and Mineral Drilling Exploration Proposals:
The Patagonia, Arizona area is presently the location of MULTIPLE proposed mining and mineral explorations from foreign mining companies with plans for open pit mines on the Coronado National Forest in eastern Santa Cruz County, Arizona. These projects are within ten miles of our town center and located in the origins of our community’s drinking water.
The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance recognizes that the health and economic prosperity of our community of Patagonia is tied deeply to the well-being of the Patagonia Mountains and Harshaw/Sonoita Creek waterways. They are the source of our water, clean air and the biological wealth drives our local economy.
The following is a summary of the current foreign mining companies with mining proposals on public land in the Patagonia Mountains. Click the mining company name for more detailed information.
Project name: Sunnyside, proposed Exploratory Mineral Drilling for Copper.
SIZE: 5900 acres.
STATUS: New Decision Memo issued April 10, 2014.
No drilling can take place between March 1 to September 30 to avoid potential disturbance to the Mexican spotted owl and Yellow-billed cuckoo during their breeding season, as stated in the Decision Memo.
PARA and Defenders of Wildlife are still in litigation against the Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service for this unlawful approval of the Sunnyside Proposal.
The Sunnyside proposal was originally issued a Categorical Exclusion Decision Memo in August 2014. Note: No drilling or digging by Regal Resources has started to date.
Project names: Hermosa Central, currently proposed exploratory mineral drilling to advance plans for 4,000-foot wide and 1,500-foot deep open pit mine for silver and manganese.
Hermosa Northwest (Hermosa NW), proposed underground mine for zinc, lead and silver.
SIZE: 13,654 acres.
STATUS: final Environmental Assessment pending.
The Hermosa Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) publication for exploratory mineral drilling was released March 7, 2014. The Hermosa draft EA is available online at the Forest Service project webpage: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=41158.
The release of the final Hermosa Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Decision is estimated for October 2015, triggering a 45 day deadline for objections. If you commented on the Hermosa exploratory mineral drilling project, you will be able to participate in the objection process. If no objections are received, the Final Decision is estimated for November 2015.
Tell the Coronado National Forest that a full Environmental Impact Statement is necessary when considering AZ Mining Inc/ Wildcat Silver proposed Hermosa mineral drilling exploration project. Sign Petition here.
Press Release: Hermosa mine proposal could deplete southeast Arizona town’s drinking water aquifer. Peer-reviewed report outlines Hermosa mine’s risks of water over-consumption, perpetual water pollution to Patagonia area.
Project name: CH, proposed Exploratory Mineral Drilling for copper and gold.
SIZE: 1000 acres.
STATUS: start of public scoping/comment period pending.
Bullrun Investments/Sulfate Resources
Project name: Javelina, proposed Exploratory Mineral Drilling for copper and potash on Red Mountain.
SIZE: 5680 acres.
STATUS: listed as CANCELLED on Forest Service project webpage.
Project name: Providencia, proposed Exploratory Mineral Drilling Project for copper.
SIZE: ~500 acres.
STATUS: listed as WITHDRAWN on Forest Service project webpage.
In March 2011, Oz Minerals Exploration filed a proposed Plan of Operation with the US Forest Service to do exploratory drilling for copper in the Guajolote Flat and Providencia Canyon area of the Patagonia Mountains. The Oz project had been delayed since our lawsuit in December 2011 was brought against the Forest Service regarding a FS decision on another mining exploration project in the Patagonia Mountains.
The Concern of Mining in Patagonia, Arizona
Patagonia Mining Threats: The Patagonia, Arizona area is presently the location of MULTIPLE proposed mining and mineral explorations from foreign mining companies with plans for open pit mines on our public lands. These projects are within ten miles of our town center and located in and around the origins of our community’s drinking water. PARA recognizes that the human health and economic prosperity of our community of Patagonia is tied deeply to the well-being of the Patagonia Mountains and the Sonoita Creek watershed. They are the source of our water, clean air and the centerpiece for the tourism that drives our local economy.
The open pit mines proposed by these foreign mining companies are highly mechanized and of enormous scale, involving thousands of acres. It is very different from Patagonia’s historical mining days when folks were digging holes around Red Mountain with a pick and a mule to haul ore. Many of the workers in the modern mining workforce have highly specialized skills and follow jobs from mine to mine. Although entry-level positions are always created during the construction phase of a new open pit mine, these jobs are relatively short-term.
Mining companies often claim that they care about jobs for the community. Mining jobs come and go based on the world market for minerals. The companies often lay off workers or even stop mining all-together when prices are low. Miners and their families are typically forced to relocate to follow the mining work. In order to maximize profits, mining has become the most mechanized industries in the world – replacing workers with equipment.
The pollution and related economic, social and human health impacts on the community of Patagonia would far outweigh the relative handful of jobs created by a new mine. The sustainable tourism jobs will be lost forever if our public lands are permanently destroyed by open-pit mining. In 2008, visitor spending in Santa Cruz County, Arizona amounted to 257 million dollars and accounted for over 2000 jobs. Government revenue generated by travel spending was 13.4 million dollars.* As more public lands across our country are sacrificed to the extraction industries – mining, oil and gas exploration, etc., our area has the potential to become even more of a draw for eco-tourism as one of the last best places to enjoy and recreate on our public lands.
What is a Plan of Operation and What’s a Scoping Notice?
Check out our NEPA Resources page here. NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act and is the environmental review process by which all federal agencies must comply for federal actions that could have environmental effects.
Having your voice heard…
“The environmental review process under NEPA provides an opportunity for you to be involved in the Federal agency decisionmaking process. It will help you understand what the Federal agency is proposing, to offer your thoughts on alternative ways for the agency to accomplish what it is proposing, and to offer your comments on the agency’s analysis of the environmental effects of the proposed action and possible mitigation of potential harmful effects of such actions. NEPA requires Federal agencies to consider environmental effects that include, among others, impacts on social, cultural, and economic resources, as well as natural resources. Citizens often have valuable information about places and resources that they value and the potential environmental, social, and economic effects that proposed federal actions may have on those places and resources. NEPA’s requirements provide you the means to work with the agencies so they can take your information into account.” From the Citizens Guide to NEPA
What do all those acronyms mean??? Check out our handy Glossary of Terms!