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U.S. House committee moves to block Rio Tinto's Resolution mine

Stock MarketsSep 10, 2021 05:21PM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mine workers Matthew Berumen, Chris Allison and Ray Ramirez do maintenance work 6780 ft (2066 m) underground in the Resolution Copper exploratory mine shaft 10 in Superior, Arizona, U.S., March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin O'Hara/File Photo 2/3

By Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives committee has voted to include language in a wider budget reconciliation package that would block Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) Ltd from building its Resolution copper mine in Arizona.

The San Carlos Apache (NASDAQ:APA) tribe and other Native Americans say the mine would destroy sacred land (https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-mining-resolution-idCNL1N2LO28S) where they hold religious ceremonies. Elected officials in nearby Superior, Arizona, say the mine is crucial for the region's economy.

The House Natural Resources Committee late on Thursday folded the Save Oak Flat Act into the $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending measure. The full House could reverse the move and the legislation (https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-senates-reconciliation-process-its-not-way-it-sounds-2021-08-10) faces an uncertain fate in the U.S. Senate,

If approved, the bill would reverse a 2014 decision by former President Barack Obama and Congress that set in motion a complex process (https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-mining-resolution-idCNL1N2LO28S) to give Rio federally-owned Arizona land that contains more than 40 billion pounds of copper in exchange for acreage that Rio owns nearby.

Former President Donald Trump gave the land swap final approval (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mining-resolution/outgoing-trump-admin-oks-land-swap-for-rio-tintos-arizona-copper-mine-idUSKBN29K22P) before leaving office in January, but successor Joe Biden reversed that decision (https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/us-forest-service-blocks-land-swap-rio-tintos-arizona-copper-mine-2021-03-01/), 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 use twice as much copper as those with internal combustion engines. The Resolution mine could fill about 25% of the demand for U.S. copper.

Superior Mayor Mila Besich, a Democrat, said the project seems increasingly stuck in "bureaucratic purgatory."

"This move seems contradictory to what the Biden administration is trying to do to address climate change," said Besich. "I hope the full House does not allow that language to stay in the final bill."

Rio said it would continue consultation with local communities and tribes. Rio Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm plans to visit Arizona later this year.

Representatives for the San Carlos Apache and BHP Group (NYSE:BHP) Ltd, which is a minority investor in the project, could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. House committee moves to block Rio Tinto's Resolution mine
 

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Comments (2)
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Sep 10, 2021 9:31PM ET
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The less jobs the Dems create the larger the number of people who become dependant on government handouts, effectively increasing their support base. Same happens when they increase government payrolls.
David Viall
Dinsul74 Sep 10, 2021 6:02PM ET
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Copper is an essential mineral in the move to become carbon free. As a side note California regulators have asked the Feds for permission to exceed EPA carbon emissions so they can crank up the use of natural gas for electrical production. It appears that climate change caused fires and less winds and smoke filled skies have caused less solar and wind production of green electricity. They have asked consumers to conserve in this difficult times.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Sep 10, 2021 6:02PM ET
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Actually, looking at the big picture, humans have reduced the number of fires by actively fighting fires, most of which are caused by lightening and would have burned unchecked.
 
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