Proposed mining project threatens O’odham water, sacred sites in Arizona

Two Canadian mining companies are trying to obtain permits for two unrelated mining projects that threaten O'odham water resources and sacred sites in southern Arizona. Lori Riddle, Akimel O'odham citizen and founder of Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment (GRACE), recently began sending out alerts that the Vancouver-based company Curis Resources may be just weeks away from getting a green light from the Arizona state government for their proposed In-Situ copper mine in Florence, which borders the southern edge of the O'odham Gila River Indian community.

A Summary on the proposed Curis Copper Mining Project that Riddle is distributing, outlines the known environmental risks of the mine:

This proposed Florence Copper Project is proposing to pump more than 10 billion pounds of toxic sulfuric acid into the ground – at the height of it’s 20 year operation more than one million pounds a day!!

The flow of the water, both above and below ground, is from the mine site towards the Gila River community’s Eastern boundary.

The In-Situ process has been used to mine Uranium across North America with disastrous consequences. Independent study by United States Geological Survey (USGS) concluded that no In-Situ mine has ever restored groundwater to pre-mining conditions.

EPA published report in 1999 resulting from a study and samples on the Florence Copper Project, concluding that in-situ leach mining releases radioactive chemicals into the groundwater.

Previous mining operator BHP conducted a test pilot project in 1997 for 100 days. Since that time, there have been more than 26 separate exceedances of water quality standards for constituents such as radiochemicals, magnesium, sulfates, total dissolved solids, adjusted gross alpha, and radium. In other words there is more than a decade of significant evidence showing that this operation contaminated the groundwater.

On Jan 23, 2012, Curis reported to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), groundwater exceedances on one of their monitoring wells of contaminants such as sulfate, total dissolved solids, and magnesium ranging from three (3) times to twelve (12) times the allowable levels.

The proposed acidic solution is NOT akin to vinegar, as claimed by Curis. This acidic solution dissolves arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, radiochemicals and other pollutants into the groundwater. In addition, Curis proposes to re-acidify and re-inject this contaminated solution into the aquifer multiple times.

Natural Geology of Site Does Not Prevent Movement of Water Between Zones – The ore body into which Curis proposes injecting acidic solution is naturally highly fractured which makes movement of injected acidic solution and groundwater unpredictable and difficult to control.

FULL ARTICLE: Proposed mining project threatens O’odham water, sacred sites in Arizona.

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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