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Arizona Mining Reform Coalition wins victory in appeal over Resolution Copper permit to pollute Queen Creek

On October 16, 2018, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Shedden, ruled that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) had violated Arizona state law in renewing a permit allowing Resolution Copper to dump polluted mine water into Queen Creek. 

The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, the Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition, and Save Tonto National Forest had appealed the ADEQ permit renewal decision in December of 2016.  A hearing was held on the appeal in February of 2018.  The San Carlos Apache Tribe had also appealed the permit decision and both appeals were combined to be heard by Judge Shedden. 

ADEQ had argued that since Resolution Copper previously held a permit to dump pollutants into Queen Creek, that a new source of polluted water could also be discharged under the old permit.  Judge Shedden ruled that since there was a new source of polluted water, Resolution Copper will need to obtain a new permit. 

This is a huge win for our communities and the environment.  ADEQ has routinely allowed mining companies to include new sources of polluted water to be piggybacked onto existing permits as was done in the case of the Resolution Copper permit.  The new ruling means that Resolution Copper will need to obtain a new permit (which should require a new public comment period) to discharge polluted mine water into Queen Creek. 

Resolution Copper is controlled by Rio Tinto and co-owned by BHP, two of the world’s largest mining companies.  The company has applied for permits to build a destructive underground block cave mine under Oak Flat.

The Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board has the authority to accept, reject, or modify Judge Shedden’s ruling.  The Water Quality board will meet on November 6, 2018 at 9:30 am to make their decision.  The Board will meet at the Arizona Department of Administration Building, 100 N. 15th Ave., First Floor in the WIFA Board Room, Suite 103, in Phoenix should you wish to attend.




The Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board has rejected much of Judge Shedden's ruling.  However, the Board has remanded the permit back to the Arizona Department of Enviornmental Quality (ADEQ) to answer the question of whether the pollution source comes from  a new mine source.  The Conservation orgainzations and the San Carlso Apache Tribe are examining the Water Qualtiy Board January 4, 2019 ruling as to next steps.

Updated January 17, 2019.

Dr. Radut | story