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Artikel

19 Mai 2023

Autor:
Ernest Scheyder, Reuters

USA: Construction of copper mine in Arizona opposed by Indigenous communities paused

"U.S. Forest Service pauses timeline for Rio Tinto Arizona copper mine", 19 May 2023

The U.S. Forest Service has told a federal court it is not sure when it could approve a land swap allowing Rio Tinto Plc (RIO.L)(RIO.AX) to develop the Resolution Copper mine in Arizona, a surprising reversal that boosts several Native American groups opposed to the project.

The complex case involves a long-running conflict between a mining company hoping to supply more than a quarter of U.S. copper demand for the green energy transition and Indigenous groups seeking to preserve Arizona's Oak Flat campground, a site of religious importance that would be destroyed by the mine's construction.

In 2014, the U.S. Congress approved a land swap that required an environmental report to be published, which former President Donald Trump's administration did shortly before leaving office. President Joe Biden unpublished that report in March 2021 to give his administration time to review concerns from Native Americans, though he was not able to permanently block the mine.

The case has wound its way through several courts. Joan Pepin, an attorney for the Forest Service, told judges during a March hearing the report would be republished "this spring."

Rumors have swirled in recent weeks that the Biden administration was on the verge of re-publishing that report, and several Rio executives made plans to travel to Arizona next week.

Late Thursday night, though, Pepin sent a letter to the court saying government officials were still meeting with Native American tribes.

"The department has not yet identified a timeframe for completing its review," Pepin said...

Rio Tinto said it would continue to try to talk with tribes and believes there is significant local support for the mine...

BHP Group Ltd (BHP.AX), which is helping Rio develop the mine, declined to comment...

Representatives for the San Carlos Apache tribe have vowed that if they lose, they will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Local officials who support the project said they were angered by Pepin's letter...

Part of the following timelines

USA: Indigenous groups oppose Rio Tinto & BHP copper mine due to potential negative impacts on cultural rights & the environment

Resolution Copper lawsuit (re land swap of notable area, USA)