Water board won't rehear town's case against Florence CopperJuly 20, 2017
Casa Grande Dispatch, By Mark Cowling
FLORENCE — The Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board on July 13 rejected a request by the town of Florence and other plaintiffs to rehear their case against Florence Copper’s state environmental permit.
“Our temporary APP is final and valid,” and the company is entitled to conduct the activities prescribed in the permit, according to Stacy Gramazio, manager of communications and public affairs for Florence Copper. The plaintiffs still have 30 days to appeal in Superior Court. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality first issued Florence Copper a “temporary Aquifer Protection Permit” almost five years ago.
Florence Copper is also preparing to defend its U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permit before a federal environmental appeals board on July 27.
There was a hearing July 12 on another case brought by the town of Florence in Maricopa County Superior Court, arguing the company lacks historic rights to mine its property off Hunt Highway across from Poston Butte. There was no decision but the judge did say he would rule soon, Gramazio said.
Florence Copper, owned by Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Ltd., hopes to survive the appeals and challenges to its permits to operate a one- or two-year small-scale test run of its Florence Copper Project. The mine will be “in-situ.” Instead of being hauled out of a deep pit, the copper will be dissolved in a weak sulfuric acid solution and pumped to the surface.
The mine and its supporters say the process can be done safely and will be a source of good jobs for 20 years. Opponents object to having a mine in the middle of town limits and say the process could contaminate the local water supply. Opponents include the town of Florence, Pulte Homes, Southwest Value Partners and Johnson Utilities.