Institute Urges Caution on Proposed Rosemont Mine
Study of economic impacts released
TUCSON, Arizona — Even a small decrease in tourism-related spending due to mining operations in southeastern Pima County would greatly outweigh economic benefits of the proposed Rosemont Copper Project, according to a new study by the Sonoran Institute. The study, which analyzes the regional economic impacts of the proposed mine, reveals a diverse, robust economy in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties being driven at the local level by a combination of tourism-related amenities, second-home building and retiree and investment income activity.
“Our analysis shows that if the proposed Rosemont mine operations displaced only one percent of travel and tourism-related spending in the region, the economic loss would be greater than the entire annual payroll of the mine,” said Joe Marlow, resource economist with the Sonoran Institute. “This is a risk that should be carefully considered by the communities and decision makers in the region.”
The local economies of Patagonia, Sonoita and Elgin in many ways exemplify the changing economy of the West, according to Marlow. “People are moving to the rural West to live and work primarily due to quality of life considerations. Given the abundance of protected public lands and recreational activities in the area, it starts with tourism, but quickly evolves into more permanent economic activity including second home building and local entrepreneurship.”
The study shows that about $2.95 billion is spent annually for tourism and outdoor recreation in Pima and Santa Cruz counties. “Travel spending is actually more important in the rural counties because it is a much larger proportion of the local economies than it is in the major metropolitan areas,” said Marlow. “Our concern is that adequate consideration has not been given to the potential disruption to local economies by a major new mining operation in the Patagonia-Sonoita-Elgin area, along with the setback this could pose to progress these communities have made over the years to reinvent and diversify their economic base.”
Marlow suggests that the local community should compare potential benefits and costs to determine whether the Rosemont Mine and other proposed mining projects are justified. “These issues have to be critically examined since the decisions made will strongly impact the area’s future economic prosperity and sustainability,” he said.
The proposed Rosemont Copper Project would be an open-pit copper, molybdenum, and silver mine located in the northern portion of the Santa Rita Mountains in Pima County in southeastern Arizona. The mine would be operated by Rosemont Copper Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Augusta Resource Corporation.
The complete study is on the Sonoran Institute website, www.sonoran.org.
The nonprofit Sonoran Institute has inspired, informed and enabled community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America since 1990. The Institute helps communities conserve and restore natural and cultural assets and manage growth and change through collaboration, civil dialogue, sound information, and big-picture thinking.