Gosar hopes to revive mine operation in Superior

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SUPERIOR, Ariz. - It’s a town east of the Valley known for its rich natural resources. According to longtime resident, Curt Williams, "The vast majority of people who are from here, their heritage is copper.

Their heritage is copper mining." The massive copper ore that’s thousands of feet under Superior hasn’t been developed for decades.

Since then, Superior has struggled. Many homes are abandoned and boarded up. The store fronts are empty, many with ‘For Rent’ signs in the windows and unemployment is especially high.

Superior Mayor Michael Hing tells 3TV, “Our community was built here because of the mining industry and the thing is, our community needs to move forward."

To help the town move forward, Representative Paul Gosar recently introduced legislation to develop the estimated six billion tons of copper ore below Superior. According to Bruce Richardson, a representative for Resolution Copper, the company that has invested millions in researching and reviving the mine says, "This is a tremendous ore mineral resource that we want to develop that will create more than 1,200 jobs.

It will employ people for at least 40 years in very high-paying jobs." Representative Gosar’s legislation requires a controversial land swap. Resolution Copper would give the federal government 5,500 acres of environmentally-sensitive land in exchange for 2,400 acres of Oak Flat Campground in Tonto National Forest. 

Roy Chavez, with the Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition, says, “Let's really look at what we're giving up.”

Chavez is nervous Resolution Copper won’t keep its end of the deal, which is to operate an environmentally friendly mine.

Chavez  says, "They'll come back and say ‘Oh we're going to do environmental impact studies but we need the land first. It will make it much easier well what it makes it much easier to do is, once you have the land, who gives a hoot’.”

Chavez contends mining oak flat campground is risky. “I think our friends in the Valley down in the flatlands need to be aware that this could impact water, it could definitely impact the environment in that area."

Resolution Copper has a lot at stake. It’s already invested millions of dollars but they believe it’s worth it.
Richardson says, "The ore here is about one point five percent grade where a lot of the mines in this area are mining copper that's about point three percent grade so that gives you some perspective on how rich this ore body really is.“

A point Representative Gosar hopes will help him convince Congress to pass his bill. "This is all our lands, we are stewards of the land we are but caretakers, that ownership entails utilizing the resources properly and giving us back the new technology and caring for this earth but also putting people back to work." 

Gosar’s bill needs to get approval from the House Natural Resources Committee before it can go to the House for a vote.