Retirees, Republicans, Greens Join to Fight Arizona Mine

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Nestled as it is amid saguaro-studded hills, under a
sky crisp blue by day and starry by night, you’d never guess Queen
Valley, Arizona, is only 40 miles east of Phoenix. Its cozy homes
surround a lush golf course, about four miles from a swath of state land
known for four-wheeling, hunting, and bird-watching.

About 1,600 people winter here, largely retirees who tend to be
white, Republican, and relatively well-off. About half stay year-round,
including some former miners who once worked in the area’s mining towns,
which hit tough times when copper prices collapsed in the 1980s. Now
prices are rising, and so is controversy regarding the proposed
Resolution Copper Mine outside the former mining town of Superior, 16
miles away.

The project has spurred deep divisions there. Many believe that the
mine — a partnership between global giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton —
will revive Superior. Others argue that outsiders will get most of the
jobs and the project will destroy beautiful canyons and cliffs; the
“block-cave” method of underground mining can cause significant
subsidence. Resolution is pushing Congress to pass a land-swap bill,
long championed by Republican Senator John McCain, that would give it
ownership of a parcel of federal land — including a popular campsite —
crucial to its proposed mine.

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