Tonto National Forest, Superior, Ariz.
Neil Bosworth, forest supervisor has approved both an environmental assessment and a plan of operations allowing Resolution Copper Mining LLC, to gather necessary data to help evaluate possible construction of a large tailings storage facility on National Forest Lands.
Bosworth approved the environmental assessment Aug. 22, and the plan of operations Aug. 24. The approvals do not authorize the construction of the tailings storage facility itself but rather only allow for the acquisition of data related to groundwater and soils via construction of wells, test pits, forest road improvements and laydown yards. The proposed tailings facility would encompass an area approximately 6,400 acres in size.
Baseline activities will affect approximately 75 acres located on public lands managed by the Tonto National Forest approximately 4.5 mi. (7.2 km) west of Superior, Ariz. Activities will include construction of temporary access roads and drilling/trenching sites; improvement of existing access roads; and installation of groundwater monitoring wells, geotechnical bore holes and trenches. All activities are outside of the Oak Flat area where the proposed underground copper mine is planned and will not impact camping and recreation activities near Oak Flat.
According to Bosworth, the project formally identified as the “Baseline Hydrological and Geotechnical Data Gathering Activities Plan of Operations” will allow Resolution Copper Mining to gather critical information necessary for the evaluation of the proposed facility.
“Data provided from this project will be critical to understand the baseline environmental conditions and to support a reasoned choice among alternatives for the proposed tailings facility in the ongoing Environmental Impact Statement under way for the larger mine development proposal,” Bosworth said. “The project also will provide data that will inform Resolution Copper Mining's ongoing design efforts for the proposed tailings facility.”
These approvals conclude a rigorous three-year review period during which numerous public comments were received and project modifications were made by Resolution Copper Mining to mitigate project impacts.
As part of the federal authorization for this project, Resolution Copper Mining has provided a bond in the amount of $1.45 million to guarantee adequate reclamation of any disturbances caused by project activities.
For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto/.