Navajo Nation opposes copper mining bill

Jan 31, 2012

The Navajo Nation Council recently voted to oppose a land-swap bill that would allow copper mining in the Tonto National Forest.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Doney Park, would lift a decades-old mining ban on 2,600 acres of federal forest east of Phoenix. 

It would swap the land for 5,000 acres of private land.

Copper prices are at historic highs, and Gosar says a mine near Superior would create 3,700 jobs.

The Navajo Nation has joined the San Carlos Apache Tribe in opposing the bill.

The site is near an Apache burial area, and is considered sacred.

Johnny Naize, speaker of the Navajo Council, says the type of mining being proposed destroys the environment.

“Previously in the same area, when mining had occurred, the ground has collapsed and it created a sinkhole,” Naize says. “If you look at the top, it looks like the place has been bombed.”

The U.S. House passed the bill in November. It is awaiting a hearing in the Senate.