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Oak Flat ~ your comments needed TODAY 6-23
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By kirra
Jun 23, 2014

Thanks to Roger Featherstone and the AZ Mining Reform Coalition for this heads-up request from our Forest Service.

Please take a moment today to send your comments or use Roger's letter (link above also copied below) which also contains a brief explaination on the matter. Sincere thanks & best wishes to all who continue this fight! ~Kirra

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

June 23, 2014

Mr. Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor
Tonto National Forest
2324 East McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85006,

Re:Scoping Comments on Resolution Baseline Hydrological & Geotechnical Data Gathering Activities:

Dear Supervisor Bosworth:

Per the U.S. Forest Service’s (“USFS”) May 13, 2014 Interested Party public scoping notice letter, this letter contains comments on the proposed Resolution Baseline Hydrological & Geotechnical Data Gathering Activities (the “Project”) and the request by Resolution Copper (and its parents or affiliates such as Rio Tinto)(“Resolution”) for approval of a Plan of Operations (“PoO”) for the Project.

The US Forest Service’s (“USFS’s”) review outlined in the scoping letter contains numerous legal and factual errors and as such should be revised in order to comply with federal law. In addition, any USFS plan to continue its review of the PoO must comply with federal law as detailed herein. At a minimum, if the agency proceeds with its review, an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) must be prepared, due to the potential for significant impacts from the Project alone, and especially when viewed with its cumulative impacts from other and/or related activities as well as connected actions. Whether the agency decides to prepare an Environmental Assessment (“EA”) first, or directly prepare an EIS, the requirements noted herein must be met for either document.

Resolution’s proposed project that the USFS is analyzing through this scoping process and subsequent proceedings involves approximately 25 square miles of federal public land administered by the USFS between the towns of Superior and Queen Valley, Arizona north of US Highway 60. The proposal involves drilling and test trenches using new, illegal “user created” roads, and existing Forest Service roads. The project is designed to determine whether the tailings location and design described in a full Mine Plan of Operations submitted to the USFS by Rio Tinto in November of 2013 (Main Mine Plan). The USFS is currently under a completeness review by the USFS.

There is no reason this project to be undertaken except for its connection to the Main Mine Plan. Therefore, the proposed main mine is a connected action that must be reviewed in one environmental review.

The USFS has determined that only an Environmental Assessment is needed for this proposed project. However, because of the connection of this proposed project to the Main Mine Plan, and the controversial and complicated nature of this project and because of the potential for impact to cultural and sacred sites, and full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be prepared. Without the required adequate analysis, any potential finding of no significant impact would be inadequate – necessitating preparation of an EIS.

The USFS has determined that this proposed project is not connected to the Main Mine Plan and the review of this proposed project should not include anything about the Main Mine Plan. This is incorrect, the EIS must fully analyze all direst, indirect, and cumulative impacts – including from Rio Tinto’s main mine proposal. In addition, USFS cannot assume that Rio Tinto has “rights” to proceed with this project yet at the same time argue that the project is not part of the proposed main mine proposal. The draft EIS must fully explain all baseline conditions prior to analyzing or approving the project. The draft EIS must include an adequate mitigation plan, including a detailed review of the impacts from, and effectiveness of, any mitigation measures. The draft EIS must fully review all reasonable alternatives. The Forest Service must minimize all adverse impacts from the project and ensure compliance with all environmental and public land laws. The Forest Service must fully analyze the project’s impacts to threatened and endangered species. The Forest Service must fully comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and all other cultural and religious freedom protection laws.

The proposed project would heavily impact the Queen Creek watershed, but incredibly, the plan does not call for any baseline studies of the watershed itself. The project needs to study closely, carefully, and completely, the Queen Creek watershed and the impacts of the project on the towns of Queen Valley and Superior.

If the Forest Service does not consider the project and the proposed main mine as part of the same project, then the proper permitting authority is not the mining law or the Forest Service 36 part 228 regulations, but the Forest Service’s special use permitting regulations. In addition, Rio Tinto is not “entitled” to have the project approved under the 1872 Mining Law.

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this Project. Please continue to include me as an interested party and direct all future public notices and documents to me at the addresses below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ form includes your address ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Jun 23, 2014
tanuki

Thanks, Kirra.


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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Jun 23, 2014

Please add your name to halt or modify Oak Flat's threatened situation.


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By Joe G
From Phoenix, AZ
Jun 23, 2014

I do not support a blanket objection to mining in oak creek, I think it could be done in a responsible way other then block mining. I encourage all climbers to write and oppose the current mining methods being proposed.
Thx,
Joe Garcia


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By kirra
Jun 24, 2014

Joe G wrote:
I think it could be done in a responsible way other then block mining.


Hi Joe- I believe this issue concerns tailings and does not directly address the method of the mine plan, which seems to be part of the absurdity. Do you have any idea of how to mine copper efficiently in this area w/o creating a toxic wastedump or imploding the land into a huge sinkhole someday?

I'm not a expert on Federal law or Hydrological & Geotechnical Data Gathering Activities so perhaps this discussion could continue with more qualified individuals..


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By Eric Sophiea
Jun 26, 2014
Licking the cat with googly-eyes.

I can speak a bit on the method of mining in this area with some level of knowledge: The ore body is truly massive and it's very high grade ore (high percentage copper) but is not concentrated in veins or small bands. Most of it is more than 6000 feet below ground. Block-caving is the only mining method for an ore body of this type at that depth. Standard "underground" mining methods will not work because the ore is spread over such a large volume. And an open pit is physically impossible. So, no, there is no way other than Block-caving. Block-cave mining de-waters the aquifers and surface waters above the area. That would include all the streams nearby, such as Gaan Canyon (home to the biggest natural plunge pools in Arizona, which are also sacred to the San Carlos Apache). Block-cave mining will also likely cause subsidence and localized collapse of the surface.

That's the scoop on Block Cave mining. It's actually a pretty effective and ingenious way to get at an ore body that's otherwise not accessible. However, it also has many impacts on the surround land.


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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Jun 26, 2014

I get you Joe. We need copper. Didn't we fight a war in the middle east for other resources? If we put in enough money, or RCM does, I'm sure they could find an alternative that would not destroy the water we currently enjoy.

Eric, the Access Fund hired an engineer to look at other potentials for the mine of the "future" and it was resoundingly ignored by RCM. They continue to push for the extremely destructive current mine proposal, which you outlined.

All of this can be rehashed by a search of this site. We have been fighting this fight since this mole first popped its head up. So far, nothing has changed.

Keeping this topic alive is great but be sure to let McCrook and Flake and your local Representative know that you will not accept the destruction of our water, air and land in the name of progress.


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By Eric Sophiea
Jun 29, 2014
Licking the cat with googly-eyes.

What did the Access Fund come up with for alternatives? I work in this field and the Engineering firm I'm with is pretty up-to-date on these methods (and has done design work on this ore-body) and there is literally no other way besides Block Caving to get at that ore. There may be things to do about the tailings and processing mess, but getting to the ore isn't feasible any other way.

That's why this ore-body needs to be left in the ground and ignored for now. Maybe some day in the future we can get at it using other technology without dewater the surface. But for now it's not possible so it should be left alone. Mineral extraction is necessary for our lifestyles, so I don't think all mines should be fought. But I hope this one continues to be halted by the good efforts of the people working on it (Roger Featherstone, etc).


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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Jun 29, 2014

Eric, if you are interested, send me a PM and I'll put you in touch with the right folks.

I like your idea best. We do need copper but do we need to destroy our environment to do so? I think not. Which is why many of us are against this mine in its current path.

Please take action to keep this mine inactive.


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