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The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition is comprised of Arizona groups and individuals that work to ensure that responsible mining contributes to healthy communities, a healthy environment, and, when all costs are factored in, is a net benefit to Arizona. The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition expects the mining industry to clean up after itself, comply fully with the spirit of safeguards in place to protect Arizona, and to interact in a transparent and open manner with Arizona citizens.

Statement of Roger Featherstone at Rio Tinto AGM 4-16-15

Here is the statement of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition at this morning's Rio Tinto Annual General Meeting in London:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I have come to London again to speak to you and continued to be troubled by the activities of a Rio Tinto at Oak Flat, which is sacred and ecologically priceless public land.

First regarding the promises of Rio Tinto starting from the top, at last year's AGM, Sam Walsh, your CEO, promised to contact me about a visit the next time he was in Arizona. However, Mr. Walsh and his entourage was observed by our encampment at Oak Flat, flying into the #10 mine shaft site in a fancy helicopter a few weeks ago, sticking around to meet with mine supporters for a few minutes and then leaving. No contact, or notice of the visit.

Comment on Rio Tinto's Proposed Toxic Tailings Site Drilling Plan

The US Forest Service is accepting comments on a preliminary Environmental Assessment of a plan of operations to conduct baseline hydrological and geophysical testing on their proposed toxic tailings location for Rio Tinto’s proposed mine at Oak Flat.  

The deadline for comments in April 12, 2015.

Rio Tinto wishes to dump toxic tailings on public land managed by the US Forest Service north of Highway 60 between Superior and Queen Valley (roughly across the street for Boyce Thompson Arboretum).  Rio Tinto wants to drill 16 groundwater testing and monitoring wells, 41 geotechnical drill holes, and 32 deep geotechnical test trenches.  They want to “improve” more than 12 miles of Forest Service roads, use either illegal or user constructed roads, and go off road to disturb another 11 acres.

Sign a Petition to Repeal the Oak Flat Land Exchange

High above the town of Superior a hour east of Phoenix, Arizona, lies Oak Flat.  Oak Flat campground was protected from mining by President Eisenhower in 1955 and is a rare desert riparian area with large oak trees, cool shade, year around water in pools and springs.  Oak Flat is sacred to Native American tribes and critical for religious freedom.  It is a recreational haven and popular for camping, hiking, rock climbing, and bridwatching.

Unfortunately, Oak Flat is under attack by two huge foreign mining companies that refuse to play by the rules in the quest for control this incredible place. 

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law.  The bill contained the Oak Flat land exchange which gives Oak Flat to the mining companies.  

This midnight deal is the culmination of 10 years of work by Arizona’s Senators and some Congressmen at the behest of Rio Tinto, to subvert the will of not only Native American Tribes, conservation organizations, the Superior Town Council, and others, but the will of the United States Congress who has forcefully rejected the land exchange for nearly 10 years.

Oak Flat will not be turned over to Rio Tinto until 60 days after the publication of a Final Environmental Impact Statement.  Until that time, Oak Flat remains public land owned by all Americans free to be enjoyed and celebrated by all. 

During this time, we must all work together to demand that Congress correct its mistake and repeal Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Please sign this petition and do everything you can to protect Oak Flat.

Go to our action alert page to sign the petition.

You can go here for a copy of the petition you can print and circulate.  Mail or email it back to us when it is full.

Apaches Meet Forest Service at Oak Flat

Press Release

February 17, 2015

For Immediate Release 

Contact:

Wendsler Nosie, Sr.,                                                   Vernelda Grant

(928) 475-2930                                                           (928) 961-3380 

Stills and video are available from the event.

An historic meeting took place today between Apache spiritual organization and the US Forest Service at Chich’il Bildagoteel (Oak Flat). 

Gather at Oak Flat, Saturday, February 7

Saturday, February 7 will be a day of speakers, music, inspiration, and sharing to protect Oak Flat.

Please attend the gathering and to bring your friends, family, and colleagues.  

Saturday will be a beautiful day in a beautiful place.  It will be a great way to learn more about Oak Flat, why we are protecting it, and what you can do to help.

Oak Flat Campground is located south of US Highway 60, 4 miles east of Superior, AZ.  You will see a Highway sign for the campground coming from either direction on Highway 60.  Follow signs into the campground. 

Background
In December, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. It included the Oak Flat land exchange, which allows for multi-national mining company, Rio Tinto, to move forward on a proposal for an enormous copper mine. The mine would decimate a piece of the Tonto National Forest of Arizona, including the popular recreation area, Oak Flat. While the environmental impacts of this project would reach generations into the future, the absolute disregard for indigenous rights to the area has made the call to action on Oak Flat a moral imperative.  

The land near the Oak Flat Campground is a sacred site to the indigenous tribes in the area, including the Apache bands. The new law allows Rio Tinto a run-around to avoid complying with indigenous rights to the land. Activists have been working for many years on the issue and actions are being planned this winter throughout the region to raise awareness and stop the destruction of this wild and sacred space. 

President Obama signs land exchange into law signaling new phase in the protection of Oak Flat

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the National defense Authorization Act into law.  The bill contained the Oak Flat land exchange.  This particular version of the land exchange was the 13th since the bill was first introduced in Congress by convicted former Congressman, Rick Renzi in 2005.  Senator Flake, who previously worked for Rio Tinto at their uranium mine (co-owned by the Iranian government) in Namibia, acknowledged what we all knew, the bill could not pass the US Congress on its own merits.

Ask the President to Veto the National Defense Authorization Act


Yesterday, December 12, the US Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The Defense bill contains the Oak Flat land exchange.

Please contact President Obama and ask him to veto the NDAA.  This is our only step left to stop the land exchange from becoming law.

You've taken action many time to help protect Oak Flat and I'm asking you now to take action one more time to protect Oak Flat.

There are so many reasons that attaching the land exchange to the NDAA is a terrible idea.  But let's face it, RIo Tinto's supporters knew that this was there last best chance to give Oak Flat to a giant foreign mining company.  

Every day we were learning more about how critical Oak Flat is for religious freedom and environmental protection and Rio Tinto knew they needed to act fast.  So, they buried the land exchange deep in a anrelated bill.

Let our President know that the NDAA must be vetoed until the Oak Flat land exchange is removed.

Take action now.

After you have sent your letter to President Obama, also sign a petition asking the President to stop this Apache land grab.

New Oak Flat land exchange language is a non-starter

Rio Tinto's supporters changed the language of the Oak Flat land exchange in an attempt to make it more palatable fortheir colleagues and to curry additional support when they attached it as a rider to the  National Defense Authorization Act.  The Oak Flat land exchange is buried the defense bill (Page 1103 of the 1,600 page bill) as section 3003.  The bill has passed the House of Represenatives, but has not yet come up for a vote in the Senate.

One of Rio Tinto's supporters even went to far to imply that the Director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition is OK with the changes in the bill.  He knows better, and of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  The langauge changes are mostly greenwashing and are still a far cry from what is needed to protect Oak Flat.

We have prepared a fact sheet explaining why the changes in the bill fall far short of the mark.

Take a look at the fact sheet.

There is still time to contact your Senators and ask them to strip the Oak Flat land exchange from the National Defense Authorization Act.  For more information about how you can take action, go here.

Contact the Senate to remove Oak Flat land exchange from the National Defense Authorization Act

Contact your Senators today to remove the Oak Flat land exchange from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In a highly controversial move last week, the US House of Representatives buried the Oak Flat land exchange deep in the House version of the NDAA. For 10 years, the land exchange has failed to be become law for very good reasons:

  • It is the only bill before the US Congress that would give a Native American Sacred site on public land to a foreign mining company;
  • It would mean the largest loss of recreational rock climbing opportunities on public land
  • And it bypasses the normal process of permitting mines on public land.   

President Eisenhower placed Oak Flat off limits to mining 60 year ago and it remains an ecological, spiritual and recreational haven.

In spite of the will of Congress not to pass the Oak Flat land exchange, its supporters snuck the bill into the defense bill (Section 3003 on page 1103 of a 1,600 page bill). The language of the bill was changed, but is still completely unacceptable.

Please contact your Senator immediately and ask him/her to remove Section 3003, (the new number for the Oak Flat land exchange) and to pass a clean Defense bill.

Act now to stop the Oak Flat land exchange

Congress has returned for a final session and some Senators may attempt to bundle the Oak Flat Land Exchange, S. 339, with other bills that deal with public lands.  

Most of these bill are good bills, but adding the Oak Flat land exchange to the package would poison the entire bill.

S. 339 is a land exchange that foreign-owned Rio Tinto mining company has convinced Arizona members of Congress to introduce on their behalf, a giveaway of land that is sacred to the San Carlos Apache tribe. The bill would be the only bill in Congress that would give away a sacred site to a foreign corporation, would be the largest loss of recreational climbing on public lands, and would overturn a ban on mining at Oak Flat that was put in place by President Eisenhower.

This is nothing new. At the end of every Congress, Rio Tinto's supporters in Congress try to bypass normal procedure by attaching the land exchange to an unrelated piece of legislation.  They know they cannot pass the land exchange in the light of day, so they resort to these behind the scenes maneuvers.  

We've helped to stop this bill before, now we need your help to do it again!

Tell your Senator that privatizing federally protected lands and turning them over to a foreign mining corporation without federal environmental review or public input isn't right. Sacred sites, recreation and the sensitive ecological area surrounding Oak Flat are more important than a copper mine.

Tell your Senator to save Oak Flat from foreign mining companies!

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Dr. Radut