Resolution Copper Team L-R: Casey McKeon, Andrew Taplin,
Randy Seppala, Vickey Peacey, Melissa Rabago, Mike Beton,
Brian Seppala, Tara Kitcheyan
PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE AND DINNER
Wed. Jan. 13, 2016 Superior High
The Resolution Copper Public Open House and Dinner last
week was a first, all on hand from the company agreed.
Never before had Resolution Copper, or probably any
mining concern in recent history, held a public meeting
where the reaction to their plans was 100% positive. But
that's what happened last Wednesday evening, and it wasn't
for lack of attendees. The multi-purpose room at Superior
High School was packed. Even those in attendance from
the San Carlos Apache Nation voiced their approval. And
the reason seemed to be unanimous. The project will spur
economic growth and much needed wide scale job creation
in the Copper Circle without sacrificing the environment.
Government mandates insure the latter, but Resolution
Copper seeks to exceed what's required, recognizing that
being a good neighbor is as vital to their success as being a
Vickey Peacey, Resolution Copper's Senior Manager of
Environment, Planning and External Affairs presided over
the meeting, facilitating the question and answer portion and
introducing Resolution Copper staff and area elected
officials. Project Director Andrew Taplin provided a review
of 2015, and a rundown of 2016 priorities.
Taplin said that one of the company's primary concerns will
always be safety, where its track record is exemplary as
recognized by the National Mining Association. The Water
Treatment plant has seen no injuries since it opened in 2009.
The Core Processing Facility continues its strong record of
14 injury-free years, with the only event last year being a
geologist with a sprained knee. 2015 saw the celebration of
1,000 injury-free days in Major Drilling. Just after that
milestone, a minor first aid incident occurred. Over all for
the year, there were three injuries related to the project
including two lost time events and one medical treatment
case. Two of the three workers are back on the job with the
third expected to return shortly.
As the Resolution Copper Project progresses, its focus
changes, and that has led to new hiring. Three local
residents have been hired for fence building, and
advertisements have been placed for another three positions,
two in environmental compliance and permitting and one for
a Native American Affairs Liaison.
As more reclamation efforts are undertaken, Resolution staff
is keeping an eye on 2016 likely being an El Nino year.
Expecting heavier than normal rains, $2 million in pumps
and pipes have been placed by Oddonetto and Superior
Environmental to divert water to storage areas so more than
the required storm water will remain on site.
Perhaps most important, is Resolution Copper's commitment
to transparency in its efforts to promote sustainable value to
the local community. In consultation with community
stakeholders, the Resolution Copper Mining Quarterly
Scorecard, which provides a graphic representation of
progress, answers the “How are we doing?” question, and
solicits feedback on company performance, is available for
the public to view at the Mine Information Office in Superior.
Taplin said the five areas for focus in 2016 include Safety,
Permitting, Reclamation, Construction-specifically on #9
shaft which should reach full depth in 2017. 2015 saw the
completion of shaft #10- and continued strong engagement
with local communities.
That last area will be in evidence through NEPA, the
National Environmental Policy Act, which provides for
extensive input from the public in a number of ways. Vickey
Peacey detailed them, and a Citizen's Guide from NEPA to
Having Your Voice heard was distributed.
Resolution Copper's Community Team showed slides of
various projects supported by the company last year
throughout the region. Among them were food banks, little
leagues, robotics programs, scholarships, and extensive
support of public service organizations and efforts in the
area. Randy Seppala, manager of shaft development
discussed underground construction efforts and the
completion of Temporary Pump Level 2 at the bottom of #10
shaft, over 6700 feet below ground, which handles lowering
the air temperature and removing water. Casey McKeon,
Resolution Copper's Environmental Manager discussed
Lower Smelter Pond efforts.
But it was the question and answer session, which proved to
be the most illuminating. Expecting mixed reviews from the
public, if not a barrage of negativity, Resolution Copper was
armed with facts, all of which were interesting but not
needed to sway the minds of attendees, who all appeared to
fully back the project. Karen Kitcheyan, an enrolled
member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe who is related to
Tara Kitcheyan, Resolution Copper's Senior Advisor for
Native American Affairs, is unsurprisingly supportive. But
most illuminating were her comments about those who rally
to preserve Oak Flats. She's been vocal and active against
their efforts and said at the meeting they were primarily
non-tribal members, led by someone from out of town. She
recounted the thoughts of various tribal elders who instead
of seeing the area as sacred, reminisce about it being a great
place to drink beer. Tribe member John Wesley focused on
the economic good that the project would do for those on the
reservation. He said it is a way everyone can come together
to combat the crippling effect of history and the rampant
unemployment affecting Native Americans, and added that
he didn't want a small group of detractors to undo what is
profoundly for the common good of his people.
Buoyant from the positive meeting, Resolution Copper got
more good news on Monday. Tonto National Forest has
authorized the collection of baseline data at the proposed
tailings site, which is the next step in the permitting process.