Report claims big economic gains for Tucson region with proposed mine

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A report detailing the economic impacts of the Rosemont Copper Mine touts a gain of $9 billion in Pima County over the next 21 years.

But Tom Purdon with the group Save the Scenic Santa Ritas says don't let the numbers fool you.

"It's hard to give that analysis credibility," said Purdon.

He says the study released by Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities does not account for loss in revenue-- if outdoors enthusiasts no longer visit the area.

"Tourism in Southern Arizona accounts for more than two billion dollars worth of activity, people come in from all over the world to go hiking, birding," said Purdon.

Scenery aside, just how many jobs will be available?

According to the report, which uses data provided by the Rosemont Mining Company, the mine could hire up to 480 people.

Another 1200 jobs could be created in Pima County when, for example, the company seeks supplies from local businesses or workers spend money on day to day expenses.

"The whole mining industry in all of Pima County accounts for less than half of one percent of jobs," said Purdon.

A dent in tourism and modest job growth is not just the opinion of groups trying to block the mine's construction.

"The analysis is incomplete without considering the significant cost impacts that could be greater. The impacts to tourism will be significant," said County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry.

Purdon says his group will not give up.

"This will be what we like to say a long marathon, and not a speed dash," said Purdon.

Calls to reach the agency that released the report were not immediately returned.