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Article

USA: Tribes halt major copper mine on ancestral lands in Arizona

Mining corporation Hudbay Minerals proposed to dig a mile-wide open-pit copper mine in the Santa Ritas, burying dozens of sites sacred to the Tribes under 1.8 billion tons of toxic waste... Represented by Earthjustice, the Tohono O’odham fought Hudbay’s ill-conceived mine in court, joined by the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes. This summer, a judge ruled in favor of the three Tribes, halting the mine in its tracks and directing the Forest Service to protect these public lands from the devastating impacts of the mine... The Court held that the Forest Service made a “crucial error” by assuming Hudbay had a right to use public lands without any evidence of a valuable mineral deposit, and that this error “tainted the Forest Service’s evaluation of the Rosemont Mine from the start.”

... By clearly identifying the Forest Service’s obligation to regulate unpatented mining claims, this victory could make it harder for giant mining companies to exploit ancestral lands for Native American Tribes and pollute precious ecosystems... “The judge’s ruling shows that there is hope in the system,” says Chairman Nuñez. “There are good people who believe in the sovereignty of Native nations, and their fundamental, inherent right to land and water."