Representatives of the proposed Rosemont mine and its chief opposition sparred over matters of economy and ecology during a meeting Wednesday of the Southern Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce.
Jeff Cornoyer, senior geologist for Rosemont Copper, and Morris Farr, vice president for Save Our Scenic Santa Ritas, gave presentations and answered questions about the effects of the controversial mine slated to be built in the Santa Rita Mountains about 30 miles southeast of Tucson.
Cornoyer continued the company’s promotion of the economic benefits of the mine, highlighting the 400 direct and 1,700 indirect jobs in the area that Rosemont says the mine will create. Cornoyer compared the potential annual revenue to other big events the state has hosted.
“That’s one Super Bowl and two Gem and Mineral Shows for every year the mine is in operation,” Cornoyer said.
He also touched on the environmentally conscious aspects of the mine, such as LEED-compliant buildings, using electric shovels instead of hydraulic, and filtering tailings to recycle water and not leave any lakes or ponds behind.
Cornoyer repeated the mine’s goal of having a zero-impact on the local aquifer and said it had already banked nine years of water to be put back into the ground.
Farr argued the local economy would grow better without the mine, as companies and individuals continue to move to the unmarred, scenic area.
If the mine does not move in, Farr said, his town of Sonoita alone could add more than 400 permanent, wage-earning residents, instead of the 400 direct mining jobs that would leave after the mine’s expected 20-year lifespan.
Farr derided Rosemont’s claims of ecological sustainability, pointing out the mine has a projected lifetime of 20 years and a vast, open pit, several times deeper than the height of the Tucson skyline, will be left behind.
He also expressed skepticism of the mine’s reclamation plans for the tailings, saying the method has never been tested on this scale.
“I don’t know if we in Arizona want to be Rosemont’s experiment,” he said.