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Rosemont project wins air permit appeal

Keywords: Tags  Augusta Resource, Rosemont project, copper, molybdenum, environmental permit, Kathy Arnold, Leanna Orr

NEW YORK — Augusta Resource Corp. said it has successfully appealed the rejected air permit application for its proposed Rosemont copper project.

The Arizona Supreme Court for Pima County ruled that county boards had "acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner" and "abused their discretion" when they originally denied the permit application, according to the July 5 ruling. The Pima County Air Quality Control District had rejected the application on grounds that it was "incomplete" but did not allow Augusta to address the alleged issues, Kathy Arnold, Augusta’s vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs, told AMM.

"The county has ordinances that we’re more than happy to fulfill; we just have to be clear on what they are," she said.

As a result of last week’s ruling, the company can now revise the permit application and resubmit it to the county boards and regulators, which are court-obligated to process it in a timely manner, the company said in a statement.

Executives from Augusta will be meeting with county regulators this week to clarify the situation and plan going forward, Arnold said.

The company also has an air permit application pending with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. It’s unclear whether the project needs both state and county air permits. Arnold said, noting that the company is hedging its bets and pursuing both.

"It’s very complicated legally, and we’re still not sure which permit we actually need," Arnold told AMM.

Arnold said Augusta remains on track to break ground in the spring of next year and begin production in 2014.

Augusta bought the property in 2006 and submitted the first official mine plan to begin the environmental approval process in July 2007, Arnold said. The Rosemont deposit has reserves of 5.2 billion pounds of copper and 161 million pounds of molybdenum, according to company estimates.

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