Native American Group Fights Land Grant For Arizona Copper Mine

Apache Stronghold, representing the San Carlos Apache tribe, appeals to the U.S. appeals court, seeking to reverse a decision granting land to Rio Tinto and BHP for a copper mine in Arizona.

The mine’s proposed location holds immense cultural and spiritual importance for Indigenous communities, hosting sacred ceremonies for generations.

The disputed ruling, issued by a subset of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, favored the federal government’s allocation of thousands of acres for the Resolution Copper project.

Apache Stronghold fights to protect sacred land from copper mining (Credits: LA Times)

However, Apache Stronghold vehemently opposes this decision, emphasizing the irreversible harm it would inflict on their cultural heritage.

Luke Goodrich, an attorney for Apache Stronghold, emphasizes the significance of this case, advocating for a full-court review.

The planned mine, while meeting a portion of the U.S.’s copper demand for renewable energy efforts, poses a significant threat to the sacred grounds, proposing a crater that would obliterate the worship site.

Rio Tinto acknowledges Apache Stronghold’s efforts but awaits further court directives. BHP, the minority partner, remains silent on the matter.

Rio Tinto awaits court's decision amid escalating legal battle (Credits: CNN)
Rio Tinto awaits court’s decision amid escalating legal battle (Credits: CNN)

The initial court decision deferred to a 2014 legislative ruling by the U.S. Congress and then-President Barack Obama.

The timing of this legal battle coincides with the U.S. presidential election season, where the stance on the mine becomes politically significant.

Former President Donald Trump‘s support for the project contrasts with President Joe Biden‘s electoral success in Arizona, largely attributed to Native American voters.