The world’s two biggest mining companies say a move by lawmakers to block development of North America’s largest copper project is risking thousands of jobs and $20 billion in forecast tax payments.
Legislation tabled by Representative Raul Grijalva is seeking to repeal a proposal to swap 2,422 acres of federally owned land in Arizona to allow Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. to construct the Resolution mine in the state. The U.S. Senate approved the provision in December.
“Those supporting the repeal legislation would be better off participating in the regulatory process, rather than pursue a legislative blockage of the economic benefits and jobs that the mine will create,” Resolution Copper Mining LLC said Friday in an e-mailed statement.
The planned $6 billion mine would support 3,700 direct and indirect jobs, Superior, Arizona-based Resolution said in its statement. Rio, which holds 55 percent of Resolution, spent 10 years seeking federal approval for access to the land and has criticized the slow pace of U.S. permitting.
Grijalva is seeking to block the land swap -- which would see the U.S. receive other land in Arizona in exchange -- as it includes areas that are culturally important to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
The proposal already includes protections for culturally important locations, Resolution said in its statement.