Mining Company to Zinke: We Want 11,000 Acres of Ironwood for Copper, Please

by | Aug 28, 2017

Multinational copper mining company Asarco wants the size of the Ironwood Forest National Monument outside of Tucson, AZ, to be decreased by 11,000 acres so that it can mine more copper in the area. The company says it is losing money – to the tune of more than $145 million – by being unable to exploit the mineral deposits in those areas, some of which it owns and some of which is federally owned but on which the company has filed mining claims.

US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke sent a report to President Trump last week with his recommendations on whether some parks across the country should be stripped of their national monument status. While Zinke recommended all parks under review retain their status, he announced that he was recommending “boundary changes” to some parks. If park boundaries are reduced, the implication is that those areas may be open to drilling, mining, or other industry. Asarco’s Silver Bell mine borders Ironwood Forest National Monument’s southwest side and lies within one of five historic mining districts near and inside the monument, according to the AP.

The Silver Bell mine has produced copper and other minerals for more than 65 years. The company sent a letter to Zinke earlier this summer saying that when Ironwood was designated a national monument 17 years ago, the Department of the Interior “erred on legal and technical grounds.” Asarco wants the acres removed so it can carry out an expansion it was planning when the designation happened, writes the Arizona Daily Star.

Arizona’s mining industry as a whole is urging Zinke to shrink Ironwood, along with the Sonoran Desert National Monument and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

Liberty Star Uranium & Metals Co., of Tucson, is also asking Zinke to rethink Ironwood’s borders.


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