Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday to overturn a permit for the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine southeast of Tucson.
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter banded together and filed the suit against the Army Corps of Engineers in the U.S. District Court in Tucson.
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas President Gayle Hartmann said the lawsuit aims to block the mine project by focusing on the Clean Water Act permit, also known as a 404 permit. The Corps issued the permit to Hudbay Minerals, Inc., the owners of Rosemont mine, on March 8, 2019.
"Basically, declaring their 404 permit was based on illegal grounds. This mine really would be a regional disaster, and it would go on forever," said Hartmann.
Hartmann said the mine would affect the drinking water in the area by depleting and polluting it. She said it would also impact sub-tropical wildlife, like ocelots and jaguars, that have migrated up to the Santa Rita Mountains.
She said it doesn't make sense to her why the Corps issued the permit.
"It's very odd, because their own Los Angeles office recommended denial of that permit, and then their San Francisco office — after thinking about it for a couple of years — went ahead and granted it in an amazing flip-flop," said Hartmann.
Hartmann said she hopes the federal courts will examine the legality of the Clean Water Act permit and tell the Corps it should not have issued the permit to Hudbay Minerals.
Hudbay Minerals expects to build the mine and employ more than 400 people in Southern Arizona.
For more on this, tune in to Arizona 360 Friday night at 8:30 p.m.