A Democratic Arizona Congressman has reintroduced a bill to reverse a federal land swap allowing a massive copper mine in central Arizona. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the site is considered sacred to members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
Congressman Raul Grijalva introduced the bipartisan Save Oak Flat Act last month. It, along with the U.S. Senate version championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, would undo a provision of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that traded Tonto National Forest land called Oak Flat to Resolution Copper.
The block-cave mine would be one of the biggest and deepest in the U.S. Tribal leaders say it would destroy a traditional San Carlos Apache ceremonial site and an area for gathering acorns and medicinal plants.
According to Resolution Copper spokesperson Jonathan Ward, the company will responsibly develop the mine and consult with tribes. He also says Resolution has protections in place for nearby historical sites, and the project would bring billions in economic benefit to the state.