In February of this year, trail camera footage of Arizona’s only known jaguar made waves among U.S. news outlets. Many Americans were shocked to learn that a jaguar, known as El Jefe, was roaming the desert Southwest. They were equally surprised to learn that a foreign mining company (Hudbay Minerals Inc.) was planning to build a massive copper mine within El Jefe’s territory: which includes federally designated critical habitat for jaguars (Panthera onca). But the Los Angeles regional office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has just made the mine harder to install.
According to this article, which was included in an email from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Corps’ LA division has recommended a federal Clean Water Act permit be denied for the Rosemont Mine. Hudbay’s planned construction activities could have significant effects on the area’s water sources, which is a problem considering that water tends to be scarce in arid landscapes. Hudbay has proposed to mitigate the damage to local water courses, but the recent recommendation suggests that the Corps’ LA office is not satisfied with their plans. However, this is far from a done deal.
The recommendation to deny the permit has been sent to the U.S. Army Corps’ San Fransisco division, which will make the final ruling. Should they deny the permit, Hudbay Minerals can appeal for a review. If they grant the permit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the power to veto the decision. Luckily the EPA has been critical of the Rosemont Mine since its proposal.
So while this issue is far from over, it is encouraging to see that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking the Rosemont Mine’s potential impacts on water sources seriously. The recent recommendation makes it more likely that the U.S. government will not allow the jaguar critical habitat in Arizona to be defiled by the Rosemont Mine.