The Resolution Copper project has entered the next phase of public consultation in the ongoing permitting process, led by the US Forest Service, with the release of its independent Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Decisions on whether to invest fully in developing the project, a proposed underground mine located in Arizona and one of the world’s most significant undeveloped copper deposits, remain subject to further permitting processes and a feasibility study that will be conducted over several years.
Resolution Copper is committed to continuing its engagement with Native American Tribes and working to seek consent before any decision on the development of the project, consistent with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Statement on Indigenous Peoples and Mining.
Resolution Copper started the permitting process in 2013, with the US Forest Service leading a comprehensive, independent review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), over seven years, and multiple Administrations.
Extensive consultation with 11 Native American Tribes and local communities has guided significant changes to the project design and measures including:
- The permanent protection of the culturally significant natural feature of Apache Leap
- A Tribal Monitor program focused on cultural heritage protection
- A partnership to protect and conserve culturally significant Emory Oak groves across Arizona.
- Economic and community development agreements that can deliver significant long-term benefits for the Superior community.
Rio Tinto chief executive Copper & Diamonds Arnaud Soirat said, "Rio Tinto is committed to ongoing engagement with Native American Tribes over the coming years to seek consent, before any potential decision by the partners to invest in developing this project.
“Consultation with Native American Tribes and local communities has led to significant changes to the project and shaped an extensive package of initiatives we expect to invest in across the mine’s life, including cultural heritage, education, economic development, environmental mitigation and recreation projects. This is a starting point from which we are committed to continue building constructive relationships through ongoing dialogue with Native American Tribes.
“The Resolution Copper project will create high-quality jobs and significant economic growth in Arizona, supplying up to one quarter of the United States’ copper demand and supporting the country’s low-carbon future.”
The Final EIS is now subject to 45 days of further public review and comment before the US Forest Service issues a final record of decision. After the US Forest Service process, further permitting will be progressed with other authorities and a detailed feasibility study completed over several years to inform investment considerations on the project. When an investment decision is made, Resolution Copper is expected to take around 10 years building infrastructure to prepare for the commencement of mining.
Notes to editors
- Resolution Copper Mining is a limited liability company owned 55 per cent by Rio Tinto and 45 per cent by BHP. Funding is proportional between the project partners.
- The project partners have spent over $2 billion (Rio Tinto share $1.1 billion) to date to develop and permit the Resolution Copper project, including reclamation of the historic Magma Copper Mine site, sinking a second shaft to mining depth, rehabilitating an existing shaft, extensive drilling and ore body testing, and the permitting and public engagement process.
- The publication of the Final EIS triggers a land exchange approved by Congress under the Obama Administration in 2015 that will see Resolution transfer 5,459 acres of high value conservation lands around Arizona to the Federal Government, in return taking ownership of 2,422 acres.
- The US Forest Service’s full process schedule and other detailed information on the NEPA process is available at www.resolutionmineeis.us/documents/authors/usfs.
- The ICMM Statement on Indigenous Peoples and Mining sets out its vision for relationships with Indigenous Peoples that are based on mutual respect, meaningful engagement, trust and mutual benefit, with Free, Prior and Informed Consent for mining projects based on good faith negotiation.