TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Toronto-listed Curis Resources on Friday said the Maricopa County Superior Court, in Arizona, had dismissed a lawsuit brought against Curis and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), challenging the validity of regulations governing individual aquifer protection permits (APPs).
The ruling, authored by Judge Arthur T Anderson, dismissed the case with prejudice, effectively acting as a judgment on the merits in favour of Curis and ADEQ.
"We are pleased with the decision to dismiss what we believe to be a frivolous and ill-advised lawsuit brought forward on very questionable grounds. The review process for the permit for Phase 1 operations of the Florence copper project was both exhaustive and inclusive,” senior legal and government affairs adviser to the CEO and board Rita Maguire said, adding the APP regulations ensured the safety of the public and the environment, and guaranteed public involvement in the permitting process.
Curis VP for environment and technical services and GM Dan Johnson added the dismissal validated the authority and integrity of the environmental review process for APPs in Arizona.
“Both ADEQ and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have extensive experience in protecting groundwater through the permitting process, and Curis will continue to work with both agencies to ensure the safety of the project,” Johnson said.
CEO Michael McPhie said the decision was another strong vote of confidence in the governmental permitting processes, which ensured the safety of the Florence copper project.
"We look forward to continuing a respectful and meaningful dialogue around a project that will contribute to the quality of life of the citizens of Florence, Pinal County and the State of Arizona."
Southwest Value Partners of San Diego, California, Johnson Utilities of Queen Creek, Arizona, and other plaintiffs, who sought to prevent ADEQ from issuing an APP to Curis for the project, filed the lawsuit against ADEQ.
The lawsuit alleged that ADEQ exceeded its statutory authority by creating a rule governing individual aquifer protection permits of limited duration, known as temporary APPs.
Curis joined the lawsuit and filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice on the grounds that state law granted ADEQ the authority to create the regulation.
The court agreed with Curis, finding that the regulation governing temporary APPs "constitutes a valid exercise of ADEQ's rule-making authority."
The dismissal with prejudice would prevent the plaintiffs from challenging the validity of the temporary APP programme in any administrative appeal of the Curis permit.
Earlier this month, the town council of Florence, Arizona, rescinded an ordinance enacted in August 2012 that had effectively banned the use of large quantities of sulphuric acid by miners and other businesses, which now paved the way for Curis to move forward with its Florence copper project.
A vote by the Florence town council resolved to rescind Town Ordinance No 583 - 12 concerning the use and storage of sulphuric acid within town limits. On August 6, 2012, the Florence town council enacted Ordinance 583 - 12 declaring "[i]n-situ mining and other businesses which utilize large quantities of sulfuric acid" to be a nuisance and a "nauseous, offensive and unwholesome business".