Rosemont Copper mine in Santa Ritas moves forward

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- After nearly four years, plans to build the Rosemont Copper mine in the Santa Rita mountains is moving forward.

This week the U.S. Forest service released an environmental draft report in which it approved development of the mine.

"It emphasized what we've been saying all along, that there would be huge negative impacts," said  Save the Scenic Santa Ritas President Gayle Hartmann.

Those include air and water pollution plus damage to thousands of acres of wildlife habitat.

But despite all the concerns Hartmann says the Forest Service gave the go ahead because of a federal mining law from the 19th century.

"The forest service feels they don't have the right to turn down a proposal like this," said Hartmann.

Rosemont Copper issued the following statement:

The Forest Service shared the draft with the cooperating agencies to review and provide their comments and questions so they could produce the best document possible. The focus at this step in the process should be on supporting the cooperating agencies and encouraging their feedback, not Rosemont's.

But Hartmann, along with other environmental advocates say they'll do whatever it takes to convince the public and the forest service to change its mind.

"They're obligated to protect public land and I feel they have to do much more to thoroughly analyze the impacts of this proposal," said Randy Serraglio.

And the Forest Service will have that chance.

The draft report is only preliminary and it will be months before any final decisions are made.