Recently, the Copper Triangle area was devastated by the Telegraph and Mescal wildfires. Many of us have friends and family now facing the process of rebuilding their homes and businesses. The fires took a personal toll when my family had to be evacuated from our home in the Beverly Hills area of the San Carlos Apache Reservation from June 8 through June 10, and again on June 14 for the Telegraph Fire.
Following this tragedy, our region has an opportunity to rebuild in a way that moves our entire community forward. At this crossroads, Resolution Copper represents the best chance for Copper Triangle resources and Arizona workers to drive economic growth here in Pinal and Gila counties.
The mine, like many domestic mining projects, has opponents, including some members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. As a San Carlos Apache Tribe member myself, I understand and respect those arguments, but I don’t see things the same way.
Here’s why. If this mine isn’t allowed to proceed, I and many tribal members like me will be forced to look for jobs and employment elsewhere. What will happen to the hundreds of workers and families who are relying on the mine for jobs and economic opportunity? For me, it’s simple: I can’t celebrate my culture and heritage if I can’t provide for my family first.
Tribal nations like mine have called these lands home for centuries. This area, known as the Copper Triangle, has a storied history of producing copper and other metals, and mining careers are woven into the fabric of our families. However, as China and other countries stepped up their efforts to control valuable supply chains for critical minerals, we’ve sat helpless, watching jobs and American manufacturing potential vanish.
Now, after devastating wildfires have greatly affected my community, the opportunities this project presents to rebuild our local economy have never been greater.
That’s because America is standing on the edge of massive investments in clean energy that would be directly supported by the copper from this project. The economic impact could be huge. When the mine is fully operational, Resolution Copper expects to directly employ about 1,500 workers right here in our community, paying around $134 million per year in total compensation to workers.
The project will also generate approximately 2,200 jobs, meaning it stands to support some 3,700 jobs and $270 million per year in total compensation at full production. That means jobs for our friends, neighbors, and family members.
Studies show Resolution Copper is also good for Arizona’s overall economy, producing up to $61 billion in economic value for Arizona over the 60-year life of the project. Resolution Copper will boost state and local tax revenues by between $88 million and $113 million per year, while the federal government could see an extra $200 million in tax revenues per year.
But we can’t proceed unless we’re working together and making sure the project benefits those who would be impacted the most. Resolution has already made significant changes to limit impacts to the area around the mine, including setting aside more than 800 acres of land to protect and preserve Apache Leap, a site with deep historical significance for my people. The changes came after years of cooperative discussions, led by the US Forest Service and involving hundreds of local stakeholders. The mine also moved the location where tailings will be kept in response to community requests, and alternative pipelines and power line locations have also been identified to better preserve rock climbing locations and new multi-use recreational trails.
Resolution has also gone to great lengths to support cultural heritage preservation work. It is funding a multi-year Emory Oak Restoration and Conservation Program, which is being led by the USFS and Native American Tribes, and has committed to maintaining public access to areas within Oak Flat, including the campground and recreational trails and climbing. The company is also funding a Tribal Monitor program, a first-of-its-kind program for the US Forest Service to ensure tribal members are a part of the informed decision-making process to identify areas, resources and sites of importance.
Following the recent wildfires, Resolution Copper stepped up to help the Copper Triangle community, through a significant donation to local cattle growers and offering its buildings and stored water supply to assist in the emergency response. Many employees opened up their homes while also volunteering and donating to local charities. The company also partnered with organizations like the Red Cross, Humane Society and Superior Food Bank to donate food, water and pet supplies to evacuation centers in Globe-Miami and Mesa and to the fire incident command center at Superior High School.
The fires are a reminder of what matters most. To many, like me, they are a wake-up call. Without jobs and the chance to make a better economic future for ourselves, where will we find the resources we need to continue to call this place home? Let’s rebuild the Copper Triangle for a stronger and better future.
Mr. Dillon is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. He is a journeyman electrician for IBEW Local Union 518.