US House committee decides to block Rio Tinto’s Resolution mine
September 10 (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to include language in a broader budget reconciliation program that would prevent Rio Tinto Ltd (RIO.AX) from building its Resolution copper mine in Arizona .
The Apache tribe of San Carlos and other Native Americans say the mine would destroy the sacred land where they hold religious ceremonies. Elected officials in neighboring Superior, Arizona, say the mine is critical to the region’s economy.
Last Thursday, the House natural resources committee incorporated the Save Oak Flat law into the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation spending measure. The entire House could turn the tide and the legislation faces an uncertain fate in the US Senate,
If approved, the bill would overturn a 2014 decision by former President Barack Obama and Congress that set in motion a complex process to give Rio federally owned land in Arizona that contains more 40 billion pounds of copper in exchange for an area Rio owns nearby.
Former President Donald Trump gave his final approval to the land swap before stepping down in January, but his successor Joe Biden overturned the decision, leaving the project in limbo.
The final reconciliation budget is expected to include funding for solar, wind and other renewable energy projects that require immense volumes of copper. Electric vehicles consume twice as much copper as those equipped with internal combustion engines. The Resolution mine could meet about 25% of the demand for US copper.
Senior Mayor Mila Besich, a Democrat, said the project seemed increasingly stuck in “bureaucratic purgatory”.
“This decision seems at odds with what the Biden administration is trying to do to tackle climate change,” Besich said. “I hope the entire House will not allow this language to remain in the final bill.”
Rio said it will continue to consult with local communities and tribes. Rio chief executive Jakob Stausholm plans to visit Arizona later this year.
Representatives of San Carlos Apache and BHP Group Ltd (BHP.AX), which is a minority investor in the project, could not be reached immediately for comment.
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder Editing by Sonya Hepinstall
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