EPA Approves Arizona Copper Mine

Published January 16, 2017

After gaining U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval of its permit to develop a copper mine, Canadian-based Taseko will build and operate a small-scale test project near Florence, Arizona. EPA issued a permit allowing Taseko to proceed with the development of the mine in December 2016.

In a news release, the company said the EPA permit allows it to drill two dozen wells, injecting an acid solution into a copper-bearing deposit, with the solution and dissolved copper then being pumped to the surface for processing.

Taseko acquired Curis Resources, the owner of the Florence Copper Project in November 2014. The property has been the site of mineral exploration and development since the 1960s.

Meets Highest Environmental Standards

Russel Hallbauer, Taseko’s president and chief executive officer, told PR Newswire this latest development is good news.

“Securing the UIC permit is a significant milestone which further validates the technical and environmental work performed by our engineering and project development teams in Florence,” Hallbauer told PR Newswire. “The issuance of this permit by the EPA confirms that our proposal meets the highest environmental standards required under federal law.”

He went on to tell PR Newswire the UIC permit, although a major step, may not be the final hurdle.

“Permitting any industrial project is a lengthy and challenging process, which is why the receipt of the UIC permit is a major milestone achieved by the Company,” Hallbauer said to PR Newswire. “There is a possibility that opposing parties will attempt to appeal the UIC permit, similar to the challenge made to the previously granted Aquifer Protection permit, but we expect that the regulatory authorities will successfully defend their thorough process.”

Protects Water, Environment

Although the permit is the last of 19 required for the mine, Taseko says an appeal of a state aquifer permit is ongoing and the EPA permit is also likely to be challenged by Florence town officials who are concerned mining may contaminate the local water supply.

Dan Johnson, general manager of Florence Copper, in an editorial published in The Arizona Republic, said the project will use state-of-the-art technology to extract copper in a water-conscious and environmentally responsible way.

“Of all the projects I’ve worked on in my 30-year professional career, the Florence Copper Project is most aligned with the mindset we need in this state: protect our water and the environment while creating high-paying jobs that improve local and state economies,” Johnson wrote in the Republic.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.