As the United States engages in the Green Transition and moves from fossil fuels to clean energy, conflicting priorities have caused tensions to flare as opposing parties come head-to-head in Arizona. The rolling hills and canyons of Oak Flat, Arizona are considered by the San Carlos Apache Tribe to be a corridor to God, to the mining companies involved in the project, Rio Tinto and BHP, it represents an economic opportunity to create wealth and prosperity, the principle on which the American dream is built. To the United States government, it represents the opportunity to mine approximately 40 billion pounds of copper over 40 years. The proposed mine, Resolution mine, could help address climate change by providing copper, a mineral that is critical in the energy transition process.
Mining is not a new industry in Arizona but as the demand for copper increases, older mines reserves have been depleted and there is a need to develop new mines in previously untouched areas. Ironically, the Green Transition is described in the UN-habitat manifesto as driving development and peace and improving the living conditions of all.
Climate change is the single biggest threat to humanity that our generation faces, and addressing the challenge is going to bring into question many previously accepted status quos. Balancing the preservation of our heritage with the sustainability of our future is a balancing act made more difficult by divergent world views. In the eyes of many members of the Apache tribe, there is no room for both, in order for the one to survive, the other will need to be destroyed. The Apache tribe are particularly opposed to the drilling technique proposed by the mining companies that over time will result in a gaping canyon of desolation.
In order address the environmental concerns of the mining project, the developers have agreed to adhere to the most stringent design criteria as per global standards. The mine will also provide economic opportunities for local residents, a fact that is not lost on many tribe members. The mine would be constructed over 8 to 10 years, eventually employing over 3700 workers. Arizona mining recruitment would surge and the inflow of resources in the town of Superior would boost the local economy. Ultimately, copper is essential to our future and the mineral will need to be mined somewhere, with only a few large and accessible copper reserves left in the US, a compromise will need to reached to balance out heritage with our future.
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