Save the Scenic Santa Ritas: Augusta Resource Shareholders Meet, Future of Rosemont Mine Uncertain
TUCSON, Ariz., June 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Augusta Resource Corporation's annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver, B.C. takes place tomorrow amid increasing regulatory and financial uncertainty regarding its only project, the proposed Rosemont Copper mine in Arizona.
Augusta's working capital is plummeting, its independent auditor has raised doubts about whether Augusta can continue as a "going concern", and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes the company's key water mitigation plan as scientifically flawed.
Augusta's proposed mile-wide, half-mile deep Rosemont open pit mine threatens critical Sonoran Desert surface and ground water supplies on which area residents, ranchers, farmers and businesses depend, and it would destroy several thousand acres of National Forest in the environmentally sensitive Santa Rita Mountains. The mountains are home to a dozen threatened and endangered species, including the jaguar, and host culturally significant Native American sites. The Santa Ritas sit in the heart of southern Arizona's $2.5 billion a year tourism industry.
"Augusta and its investors, including HudBay Mineral Resources, will continue to face fierce opposition from citizens that are vehemently opposed to this disastrous project," says Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll.
"If Augusta and its investors believe they can steamroll this community with platitudes and promises and pressure regulators into issuing permits so they can enrich its investors, they are in for a rude awakening," Carroll, a Republican, added.
Augusta states in regulatory filings that its Rosemont Copper Company subsidiary expects to receive Forest Service approvals and an Army Corps of Engineers' Clean Water Act permit by the end of the Third Quarter, with construction beginning by the end of the year.
"Augusta's claims are a desperate attempt to convince investors that mining is imminent," says Gayle Hartmann, president of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a Tucson-based citizen's coalition that has successfully worked for decades to keep mining projects out of the popular mountain range southeast of Tucson.
"This project is nowhere near final approval, and we are determined it will never break ground," Hartmann says. "Augusta and its investors are wasting time and money continuing their effort to build this mine."
Augusta had $16 million cash at the end of the 1st Quarter and has been burning through cash at a rate of about $10 million a quarter. The highly-diluted, speculative junior mining company has 144 million shares outstanding, with Rosemont being its only asset.
For the last two years, Augusta has relied on short-term loans from London-based copper hedge fund Red Kite Explorer Trust for operating capital. Red Kite's $83 million loan is due in July 2014. Augusta has pledged Rosemont Copper Co.as collateral for the loan.
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas is a non-profit organization working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities. Our current activities are focused on the proposed Rosemont Copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.
SOURCE Save the Scenic Santa Ritas