Mining Destroys the Environment Leaving Poisonous Substances Behind

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Arizona Mining
Reform Coalition
Working to ensure mining is done responsibly to protect communities and the environment in Arizona.
Fill out an alternatives development questionnaire to help protect Oak Flat

The Tonto National Forest is beginning a process of developing alternatives for a toxic tailings dump and other components of Rio Tinto’s plans to destroy Oak Flat and other public lands.  This process is required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Forest Service has put a slideshow and questionnaire online to ask the public to help them develop alternatives to Rio Tinto’s mine plans.  The questionnaire is online for a limited time.  The questionnaire will be online until April 5.

Rio Tinto’s plans are destructive in so many ways, particularly its proposed toxic waste dump.

You can view the slideshow and fill out the questionnaire by going to the Forest Service questionnaire page.

Please note that the questionnaire is weighed toward supporting Rio Tinto’s plans.  The questionnaire is what it is.  We do not endorse it and while we applaud the Forest Service for further seeking public participation, we wish that they had done a better job of being objective.  You may find some of the questions to be leading and objectionable.  We are disappointed that there are not choices for “all of the above” or “none of the above.”  You do not have to answer every question. Our hope is that the Forest Service will give as much weight to the unanswered questions as the ones that contain answers.

The questionnaire is part of an ongoing process to prepare an environmental impact statement to evaluate and disclose the environmental effects from Rio Tinto’s plan to destroy Oak Flat and an additional more than 4,400 acres of precious public land by creating an underground mine at Oak Flat, process copper and other minerals outside the Superior town limits, dump 1.6 billion tons of toxic waste in an unlined facility on public land between Superior and Queen Creek, pump copper concentrate 22 miles to a loading facility in San Tan, and drill more than 30 wells between Magma, AZ and Florence Junction to pump groundwater to supply the proposed mine.

The Forest Service wants the public to provide input as to the relative importance of a variety of environmental and social criteria that the Forest Service will use to evaluate alternative tailings facility locations.

While you look at the questionnaire, keep in mind that Rio Tinto’s proposal would:

  • Destroy Oak Flat by causing a 1,000-foot-deep crater 2.5 miles in diameter.
  • Destroy 7,000 acres of public land, including Oak Flat, to build a toxic mine.
  • Dump 1.6 billion tons of toxic tailings directly on the ground on top of public lands used for hiking, ATV’s, and other forms of recreation.
  • Bury several springs.
  • Preliminary drilling results in this proposed toxic dumpsite show far more shallow groundwater is present than Rio Tinto “estimated.”
  • Drill more than 30 water wells between Florence Junction, AZ, and Magma, AZ, to pump ground water to supply the proposed mine.
  • Pump copper concentrate 22 miles to San Tan, AZ where it would be loaded onto railroad cars to be transported out of the United States for final processing.

Roger Featherstone, Director

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