In order for the Resolution Copper project to go ahead in Arizona, the US congress has to first approve the land exchange since Oak Flat is public land. This faces a lot of opposition due to the project’s environmental impacts and how it will affect the indigenous peoples to whom Oak Flat is sacred. After 13 failed attempts, the land swap is finally approved in 2014 in the form of an amendment to a defense law, through John McCain’s surreptitious ‘midnight rider’ strategy. Not coincidentally, McCain is ‘the largest recipient of Rio Tinto campaign contributions at the time’.
The Obama administration later tries to ensure continued protection of Oak Flat through a “Historic Places” designation in 2015. However, this does not ensure environmental concerns are given precedence over mining industry interests.
The lack of transparency in pushing the Resolution Copper project as well as the opposition against it is noticeably absent from Rio Tinto’s own timeline.