Resolution Copper inches closer to land swap for Arizona mine

Dec 22, 2009 | 11:46 AM | Anne Riley

Resolution Copper Co.'s plan to develop a massive source of domestic copper in the protected forests of Arizona has moved one step closer to reality.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved legislation this week that could allow the Phoenix-based subsidiary of Rio Tinto to build a mine on a piece of Arizona's Tonto National Forest in exchange for 5,500 acres of "high-priority conservation lands" now owned by the company.

In the form it left committee, S. 409 gives the secretary of agriculture authority to approve such a "land swap" based on the results of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment to be completed by the company in upcoming years. The original bill, introduced by Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl (both R., Ariz.), would have authorized the land exchange to go forward without granting the secretary veto power. McCain and Kyl's press offices didn't return calls seeking comment.

The amended bill will now move to the U.S. Senate, while a similar piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D., Ariz.) makes its way through the House. If the bill is ultimately signed into law, Resolution could be on its way to becoming the largest copper mine in North America.....

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