Forest Service approves operating plan for Rosemont Mine

The proposed Rosemont Mine cleared its last major administrative hurdle when the U.S. Forest Service approved a proposed operating plan for the project.

Hudbay Minerals Inc. announced Thursday that the Forest Service has sent it a copy of an approved Mine Plan of Operations. The plan is supposed to lay out how the company plans to operate the $1.9 billion project to remove copper and other minerals from an open pit on the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.

The Forest Service will post the approved mining plan on its website no later than Friday, said Heidi Schewel, a Coronado National Forest spokeswoman.

The mine, when completed, is expected to pull 112,000 tons of copper concentrate from the ground every year. It’s supposed to operate for close to 20 years before shutting down and create more than 500 full-time jobs.

Hudbay hasn’t announced a construction schedule for the mine. The Forest Service approved the mine itself in June 2017.

The Army Corps of Engineers approved a federal Clean Water Act permit for the project on March 8.

“Receiving the MPO is an important milestone that completes the permitting process at Rosemont,” said Alan Hair, Hudbay’s president and chief executive officer, in a news release announcing the mining plan’s approval.

“With the receipt of the  .  . . Water Permit, an agreement to consolidate 100% ownership and receipt of the approved MPO, Hudbay continues to move the project forward. Rosemont is now a fully permitted, shovel-ready copper project and we look forward to developing this world-class asset.”

Environmental and community groups and three tribes, including the Tohono O’odham Nation, have filed suit to try to overturn the Forest Service decision. They say they’ll likely sue to try to overturn the Corps decision as well.

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