A new report prepared for the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition to coincide with BHP’s annual general meeting in London, shows serious flaws and deficiencies in the technical design of Rio Tinto and BHP’s proposed Resolution Copper mine. The proposed mine, which would destroy the sacred land of Oak Flat and more than 5,000 additional acres of precious public land, already is known to cause unacceptable and irreparable harm.  The report now shows that the design of the proposed mine is unworkable.
The report, written by Dr. Steven Emerman, concludes that:

  1. Under the best-case scenario, the completed underground mine will encounter geothermal water at a flow rate of 3800 gpm.
  2. Under the best-case scenario, the additional power requirements for mine dewatering and refrigeration will be 24 MW.
  3. The worst-case scenario is difficult to estimate, but if more highly fractured rock is encountered during construction of the underground mine, the additional power requirements could easily be 100 times greater.
  4. The above estimates do not include the additional costs of ventilation, due to gases exsolving from the geothermal water, and corrosion of mine equipment, due to the persistent saturated atmosphere.
  5. The most disturbing issue is the failure of the General Plan of Operations to estimate the total power requirements of the copper mine or to seek any source for power besides the local grid of the Salt River Project.

The report (see below) recommends that anyone who is interested in investing in the Resolution Copper Mine or in the companies that are managing the copper mine seek answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the total additional costs associated with the discovery of geothermal water?
  2. What are the total power requirements of the copper project?
  3. How will the consumption of power by the Resolution Copper Mine affect the other consumers of power from the Salt River Project?