A Miner's Point of View

For some unknown reason, perhaps nostalgia, I have been perusing your "facts" and "research," pertaining to the Sierrita Mine. I sit here in awe and wonder at how you folks could be so blind to the world around you. I was once an employee at Sierrita, and lived in Sahuarita, enjoying what could have been an idyllic life for my family and I. That has changed, and you, and your followers are a big part of my own upheaval.
I am a miner. I come from a mining family. I am proud of my lot in life, and my position in the history of the copper state. Long before country clubs and retirees showed up, my forebears toiled to extract copper and silver from those hills surrounding many Arizona communities, Globe/Miami, Bisbee, Ajo, Clifton/Morenci, all of the places that built Arizona. Later, some pulled another valuable material from those same hills, Chrysotile asbestos. Oddly, nobody ever got cancer, or any of the myriad diseases that the "outsider" environmental movement threatens us with. I tried my hand at non-mining employment in Arizona's "modern economy". As a trained medical provider, I made less than half what I make now. Not enough to raise a family AT the poverty line, much less above it.
Although I am young by Green Valley standards, I remember clearly when the Globe/Miami area had a SURPLUS of available groundwater, with three large mines, two mills and a smelter operating. Now, all except the smelter sit idle, families have been decimated, and environmental activists open a variety of antique stores and overpriced coffehouses in once proud buildings. There is concern regarding the supply available in the aquifer now, and it isn't related to mining, so where is it going? I'll answer that question for you with hard, logical fact.
A population boom of those incapable of living in harmony with a desert environment drains water faster than all of the mines combined. Ever stop to think about how much water one golf course consumes? How about endless numbers of tract homes, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, occupying a plot of land that for over a century supported ONE house? How much water is WASTED by fountains, and other aesthetic/architectural features? How much is lost as effluent by Green Valley alone? Mine process water is reused as much as it can be, human waste streams aren't.
Moving onto other blatant misrepresentations you put out for public view, I'll quote and bullet where possible to save time:
"The problem is caused by the other non-useable metals and chemicals, such as lead, manganese, cadmium, which were in the rocks along with the precious metals, that are dumped at the mining site to leach into the soil" - So, what you are saying is that these materials should NOT go back into the same ground they came from? Should we fly them to another country, OR, would it be wiser to install processing facilities where these materials can be recovered in marketable form as well, so people like you have more to scream about?
"Gold and silver and copper are no longer lying around on the ground and in rivers waiting to be picked up or panned" - I wish you had informed me of this earlier! I recreationally pan for gold, with a degree of success. Many, many people do. Oddly, the same geologic forces that worked in 1849 at Sutter's Mill are still working today. And for your information, copper has never been a panned material. It is far too light. And native copper tends to be found FAR from the surface. It has always been an ore mineral, back to the ancients.
"Through smelting of molybdenum" - Moly concentrate is not smelted at Sierrita, it is roasted. Big difference. Roasters heat the material to the point that it undergoes a sublimation process, replacing sulfur with oxygen atoms. It is not melted, there is no slag material removed. This oxidized material is further refined downstream, usually in Iowa. No smelting occurs at Sierrita, and probably has not occured in the greater Green Valley area since the turn of the century.
"Many people call clean-up "restoration." This is a gross misconception. The pits are left to become toxic water lakes. The tailings ponds are left to evaporate (assuming it doesn't rain). We have two good examples: Ajo and Bisbee. Both are closed, yet they look the same as they did when in full operation." - Neither is an example of anything. Both were last worked prior to 1986, which exempts them from reclamation statutes. Any reclamation done at either site is purely voluntary. Though I am sure you hold no interest in this, the Copper Queen Branch (Bisbee), currently has no pit lake. The water is being used in the Bioteq reclamation of an old waste/leach pile. Copper comes out, with the only byproduct being pure water. All through a biological process. New Cornelia (Ajo) is considered on care and maintenance status, as it may reopen in the not too distant future. Time, and available smelting capacity will tell. As a trivial question, why DID Ajo really close? A big part of it was that it was impossible to meet environmental hamstrings placed on the smelter. The same death knell you and your ilk tolled for Douglas and Morenci's plants. Ajo's remote location, and lack of a direct rail connection to a smelter killed it, and uprooted many families in the process. You should be proud.
 "There's no one going to do it for us. The prevalent attitude is "We don't want to do anything to disturb the mining company operations." I venture: "Why not?" Their waste came right into our homes and disturbed our lives—our health, finances, and eventually will affect our property values". - I venture, "Why don't you leave?". You came into my home and disturbed my life, my health, my finances, and took away my property rights. Your retirees came right into my home, you ruined my town, hell, my state with your traffic, your golf courses, your shopping centers. Why? Because you don't want to disturb YOUR operations? Nobody asked me if I wanted to find myself exiled to Morenci, far from family, far from friends, far from HOME, because of retirees from all over the country loving Green Valley, did they? When a loving Senior Citizen asked my children to leave the PUBLIC park because they were "disturbing her peace", THAT is pollution. When I got assaulted with a cane for being in some old guy's way at Walgreens, THAT was pollution. 
I only see one possible solution for pollution in Green Valley - Leave. All of you that can't live in peace with those of us who were here long before you came along, leave. We'll keep America moving, you take your economic stagnation, AIR POLLUTION from all of your luxury land yachts, overpopulation, escalating crime rates and bad attitudes with you.

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