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Arizona appeals court upholds permit for major copper mine

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The Arizona Court of Appeals has removed one hurdle for a proposed mine southeast of Tucson that would be the third-largest copper mine in the country.

The court on Tuesday overturned a ruling by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge who said the state should not have issued an air-quality permit to Rosemont Mine, The Arizona Daily Star (http://bit.ly/29Oo7P4) reported.

The lower court had called the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s approval of the permit “arbitrary and capricious.”

A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled instead that “substantial evidence supported the department’s determination that the proposed Rosemont Mine will not exceed air quality standards.”

The proposed open-pit copper mine would employ about 400 people. It has been delayed for years over concerns that it could harm air and water quality, dry up wells and streams, and damage habitat for endangered jaguars and other species.

The mining company refutes those concerns.

Unless there is a successful appeal, Rosemont Mine has two regulatory hurdles left. It is waiting for a final decision by the U.S. Forest Service on the project’s overall plans. It will also require a Clean Water Act permit decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The agencies say they expect to make those decisions this summer.

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