Nearby developers and the operator of a water company contend the state Department of Environmental Quality should not have issued a permit to Curis Resources to pump sulfuric acid into the ground.
The idea is to dissolve copper deposits below, pump the solution back up and strip out the copper. Foes asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson to block the state from giving the go-ahead, saying environmental concerns had not been properly addressed.
But Assistant Attorney General John Hestand told the judge that while a temporary permit has been issued, nothing is going to happen until completion of a public participation process.
"That will take several months," he said. "That involves the ADEQ accepting input from individuals and then responding back to them and the modifying the permit if appropriate, revoking the permit if appropriate, having the permit go forward as it currently is if appropriate."
Hestand said that, in the interim, no chemicals will be injected anywhere. Attorney Larry Crown, representing one of the developers, told the judge he is satisfied there is no need for an immediate injunction. Instead opponents of the operation will build their case to convince Anderson that DEQ should be permanently barred from giving the final go-ahead for the sulfuric acid process. The next hearing is scheduled for February.