NEW YORK Augusta Resource
Corp.s Rosemont copper project is on track to break
ground in April next year, regulatory approvals permitting, a
company executive told AMM.
"Were ready to start as
soon as the environmental approval process is done," said Kathy
Arnold, Augustas vice president of environmental and
regulatory affairs. "Were ready to start tomorrow."
The mining project near Tucson,
Ariz., has six out of nine necessary approvals. Arnold said she
expects to receive an air permit from the Arizona Department of
Environmental Quality this quarter and anticipates approvals
from the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service by
April. After a mandatory 105-day appeal period, work can begin
on the mine site.
At the moment, the Vancouver,
British Columbia-based company is assisting the Army Corps of
Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service in the final stages of
addressing feedback from the public on Augustas draft
environmental impact statement. The two agencies received
nearly 35,000 comments on the Rosemont report and must respond
to each individually.
"Its been a really
labor-intensive process," Arnold said. "But in the long run,
its worth a little bit of a delay to do this right so we
dont have any more hang-ups before final approval."
Even if the permitting process
goes smoothly, production is still a long way off. "Weve
got plants to move, ground to level, roads and an interchange
to build. Weve got a lot to do before we can start
producing," Arnold said. "Fortunately, weve got some
really solid investors. That makes everything easier."
The Rosemont deposit has a
reserve of 5.2 billion pounds of copper and 161 million pounds
of molybdenum, according to company estimates.