By Associated Press - Monday, November 27, 2017

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service on Monday to stop a proposed open-pit copper mine southeast of Tucson.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court says the Rosemont Copper Mine would destroy Coronado National Forest land and threaten water resources. It was filed Monday by the groups Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.

The suit asks the federal court to overturn the Forest Service’s approval of the Rosemont mine and halt the project.

Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said the agency does not comment on litigation.

Agency officials said in June that the final decision of record had been signed for the mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, declaring that the project complied with environmental laws and should go ahead.

The $1.9 billion project would be located on more than 5,400 acres (2185 hectares) of federal, state and private land. The mine would be built by Canadian-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. and produce copper, molybdenum and silver concentrates.

First proposed in 2007, the project has been delayed over concerns that it could harm air and water quality, dry up wells and streams, and damage habitat for endangered jaguars and other species.

“The Rosemont mine would permanently destroy endangered species habitat and pollute some of Arizona’s most important waterways,” said Marc Fink, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, said: “Arizona’s waters and wildlife are too precious to risk for the short-term profits of a foreign mining company, especially as the consequences will last for centuries.”

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