FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sophie O’Keefe-Zelman
January 23, 2012
Curis distorts truth about safety of untested mine
Curis Copper Project site to undergo more testing for safety despite previous safety claims.
(Florence, AZ) – Curis’ most recent requests to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) – to suspend their current permit applications and conduct pilot testing – are completely inconsistent with promises they have made to the Town and Florence residents in multiple public hearings. Despite claiming all along that the project was safe, it turns out Curis requires more testing to study the site for safety.
Curis submitted a letter to ADEQ on December 20, 2011 requesting a suspension of their previously submitted Aquifer Protection Permit (“APP”) application that would allow mining on both Town of Florence and State Land property. According to the latest correspondence, Curis now proposes to submit a separate permit application for a new temporary pilot test facility on the State Land portion of the project. This pilot test would allow Curis to conduct a small scale test of the proposed mine for a limited amount of time, not the full-scale commercial mine previously proposed. This new strategy is a significant setback and deviation from Curis’ original plan, and is a direct contradiction to many previous statements made regarding safety of the Mine and the historical testing that backs that assertion.
Curis’ December 2011 correspondence with ADEQ directly contradicts Curis’ previous statements regarding the safety of the proposed mine and their ability to support that assertion. Curis claims that their proposed pilot test will develop data allowing them to respond to ADEQ’s deficiency letter dated September 7, 2011. As many will recall, at Planning & Zoning Commission and Council hearings in October and November 2011, Curis indicated they were close to responding to ADEQ’s deficiency letter, and were confident that they could respond to all inquiries. Not only did Curis miss the 90-day period to respond to ADEQ’s inquiries, but they now need more testing to respond to ADEQ’s deficiency letter. How can anyone be assured that Curis’ proposed mine is safe when Curis’ own team admits that they need more testing to answer ADEQ’s questions? More importantly, how can anyone trust Curis’ statements when there is a long, documented track record of contradictions and misrepresentations on the safety of the project?
Furthermore, Curis’ approach to suspend the previously submitted application that includes Town of Florence property, and pursue this pilot test through a separate application, shows evidence that Curis’ threats to commercially Mine on the State property are indeed nothing more than an idle threat. The latest move by Curis vindicates the position POWOF has taken on this matter, by challenging at the public hearings the ability for Curis to commercially operate on the State Land parcel alone. Interestingly, at this time Curis does not even propose to submit a new application for both a pilot test and full operation on State Land property, but rather just a temporary pilot test operation. It is now readily apparent that Curis’ strategy is nothing more than a ploy to buy more time as they attempt to influence the local Council election by electing pro-mining candidates, and then return to gain approval on the Town of Florence property.
Most concerning of all, Curis now proposes to initiate a process with ADEQ that avoids getting public input until after the permit is issued. Curis continually preaches transparency and a willingness to work with the Town and residents, yet they now attempt to move forward in a process that shuts out the public and Florence residents from having input in the process. In reality, this pilot test will do nothing to prove the safety of the project, as the impacts of the Mine may not be felt for many years down the road. Let’s not forget that Curis claimed the 1990’s BHP pilot test “conclusively demonstrated ability to maintain full ‘hydraulic control.’” However, in reality, BHP’s pilot test ran for 100 days, used 13 injection and recovery wells, and injection rates of 120 gallons per minute, and had more than 26 separate exceedances of water quality standards. Curis’ plans for a full commercial operation will require 480 to 600 injection and recovery wells per “operational unit”, with injection rates of 11,000 gpm for 20 years. The pilot test also did not simulate the types of operational stresses that will be applied to the aquifer during a fully operational, long term in-situ mining project. A new “pilot test” will not provide any more assurance/confidence in this process.
Southwest Value Partners and Protect Our Water Our Future remains committed to ensuring that the future of Florence is protected and encourages residents and landowners to stay involved in opposing this risky project.