Before Indian Country’s attention turned to the #NoDAPL movement last summer, there was the fight to save Oak Flat, a sacred Apache site in Arizona, from a huge mining development.Congress paved the way for the Resolution Copper mine through a controversial land swap that tribes tried to defeat. But now it’s in the hands of the Trump administration and there are signs that the project has drawn sympathy from a team all too eager to please industry interests.
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“A company shouldn’t have to be hundreds of millions of dollars into risk money without knowing whether there is a real chance it is going to get approved,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Reuters, which said he specifically brought up the mine.
Officially, the Department of Commerce is not reviewing the mine. The environmental impact statement is instead being handled by the U.S. Forest Service because it would require transferring land within the Tonto National Forest to Rio Tinto, the foreign company behind the mine.
The land happens to include Oak Flat. That’s where citizens of the San Carlos Apache Tribe go for ceremonies, gatherings and other important events.