Wednesday, December 1, 2021 10:53 am

Water battle entangles Augusta Resource copper mine in Arizona

Pecan treesBy John W. Miller | The Wall Street Journal

SAHUARITA, Ariz.— This picturesque valley in Southern Arizona, 20 miles from Tucson, has enough water for one of the world’s biggest pecan farms or a new copper mine—but maybe not both.

Augusta Resource Corp., a Vancouver based junior mining company traded in Toronto and New York, wants to build a quarter-billion-pound-per-year copper mine here, next to a beautiful valley favored by retirees seeking golf courses, young couples who need yards and one very big pecan farm. Augusta, which recently rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from Hudbay Minerals Inc.HBM.T +0.50%, paid $20.9 million for 2,000 acres here in 2005 for its Rosemont project, and says it seeks to start construction later this year and production of copper around the end of 2017.

But delays in receiving permits have been triggered by concerns over water use and quality. This bush country of bear grass, mesquite, oak and prickly pear cactuses gets a mere eight inches of rain a year. A page-one article in The Wall Street Journal details how the need for water is pressuring copper miners.

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