Contacts - Mining in the West

Joe Marlow
Land Economist 
520-290-0828, ext. 1146
Emily Brott
Southern Arizona Project Manager, Sun Corridor Legacy Program 
520-290-0828, ext. 1144

Visit Las Cienegas NCA

c-20130327-las-cienegas-nca2-2-jpgVisit Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - about 45,000 acres of lush, rolling grasslands and woodlands.

Cienega Creek traverses  through the NCA.

For directions and to visit, click here


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Home Western Issues Land & Water Conservation Mining

Mining in the West

Despite the promise of jobs, business income, and tax revenues, it is widely known that the environmental impacts of extracting minerals from the ground are often profound and permanent. Some places are clearly better suited for mining than others in terms of how economic benefits are weighed against environmental and social costs.  With years of experience examining mining projects across the West, the Sonoran Institute understands the economic importance of mining and the need for copper and other metals.

Check out our work on mining in our Library


Featured Video: Cyanide Beach

Named “Best Educational Film” at the Yosemite Film Festival, Cyanide Beach is a must see film – about the people behind Rosemont.  InvestigativeMEDIA's 24-minute video reveals the deceptive business tactics of Augusta Resource Corporation's top business executives when they operated a gold mine in Sardinia, Italy between 2003 and 2007.

Augusta Resource owns the Rosemont Copper Company, which is seeking government permits to build a mile-wide, half-mile deep copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.


Taking a Stand Against the Rosemont Project

The Sonoran Institute is actively opposing a mining project near Sonoita, Arizona, where Rosemont Copper proposes digging an open-pit mine beside one of the most beautiful and ecologically important areas in the Southwest. Worse, new research reveals that the mine could devastate Cienega Creek, a vital water resource and one of the last free-flowing rivers in Arizona. We have called on the Forest Service to conduct new and independent investigations on Rosemont’s potential water impacts.


emily brott headshot

 “The Cienega and Sonoita Valleys are home to many working ranches, wineries, and farms, as well as the popular Las Cienegas National Conservation Area," says Emily Brott, project manager for Sonoran Institute. "Placing a new open pit mine in this area, we believe, will may jeopardize and even eliminate the water that feeds Cienega Creek--which could devastate the local agriculture- and tourism-based economy.”

- Emily Brott, Southern Arizona Project Manager, Sun Corridor Legacy Program



News & Updates

EPA: Rosemont Mine Permit Shoule be Rejected
Nov. 22, 2013 - The Environmental Protection Agency says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shouldn’t approve a key permit needed for the proposed Rosemont Mine to start construction.  Read the full article.
Rosemont, Game and Fish Reach Wildlife Conservation Agreement
Oct. 30, 2013 - The Arizona Game and Fish Department will get about $10 million over a decade from Rosemont Copper for land, water rights and wildlife projects to compensate for impacts of the proposed Rosemont Mine, the department announced Tuesday.  Read the article.
Streams Near Rosemont Mine Site Home to Rare Cuckoos
Oct. 19, 2013 - A rare bird that could gain federal protected status lives and in some cases breeds along three streams and creeks near the proposed Rosemont Mine site, federal reports show.  Read the full article.


Stand Up and Say No

April, 2012 - It is not often that the Institute publicly opposes a proposed resource development project. But, some projects are just so ill-conceived and contrary to sensible thinking, that we have no choice but to stand up and say, "No." The proposed Rosemont Copper mine near Sonoita, Arizona, is one of these projects.

Read our April 2012 Western Dispatch


Not All Sites Proposed for Mines are Inappropriate

Luther Propst Opinion – Arizona Republic
April 3, 2010 - The Sonoran Institute is no fan of mining. The environmental impacts of extracting minerals from the ground are often devastating. We also understand, however, that for many Western communities, a local mine historically offered good jobs and hope for prosperity. Mining helped build Arizona and the West, while its busts caused hardship and forced economic diversification. As long as our economy craves copper and other essential metals, mining companies will continue to search for new supplies to meet the demand. The presence of minerals below ground, however, should not automatically justify a mine; in terms of how economic benefits balance environmental and social costs, some places are clearly better suited for mining than others. The principal federal law regulating the siting of mines on public lands has not been meaningfully updated since 1872. This law, which treats all potential mining sites as equal, should be reformed.

Click here to read the entire opinion piece.