The Augusta Mining Company’s plan to build an open pit mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson has been controversial from the start. The Rosemont Mine project will cover 4,300 acres, about one third of which is privately owned by Augusta, the rest is U.S. Forest Service land. Many support the plan for economic reasons, while others see it as a bight on the landscape and an ecological disaster.
The Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (DMMR) released a describing the economic impact the mine would have. The data are based on a recent assessment conducted by the Arizona State University.
The DMMR included the following in a press release dated November 20, 2009, “During the projected 20-year production/post-production phase, the State of Arizona will see an average annual increase of $907 million per year in economic activity, $214 million in residentsâ€™ income, and $32 million in state revenues. The project will support 800 additional jobs for Arizona residents above the 2,100 added in the three-county area.” It also reports that during the twenty year production/post-production phase that “the total gains to the U.S. economy add up to $27 billion in output, $15 billion in gross domestic product, $8 billion in personal income and $3 billion in federal government revenues.”
Along with environmentalists and residents in the area, Pima County has taken an anti-mine position, even though it has no legal authority to participate in the decision process. The U.S. Forest Service has sole authority in that regard.
Ironically, Pima County had an opportunity to purchase the private land (approximately 1,000 acres) prior to Augusta, but turned it down.