Arizona has a diverse cultural history, especially here in the Copper Triangle. Mining and ranching have been an integral part of this community for more than 100 years, and the area is home to many federally recognized tribes and to the places where they have historic and cultural ties.

We’re working hard to better understand what matters to our all our neighbors and make sure we balance their interests with our own.

Protecting Native American culture and sacred sites

We’re required to comply with all laws related to Native American cultural and sacred sites, and the permitting process requires formal consultation between the US government and the governments of Native American tribes. These governments look at plans for the proposed mining operation and any impacts on cultural resources and agree on steps to avoid, minimize or mitigate them. If you have questions about Native American Affairs, please contact our Communities and Social Performance Manager, Hesston Klenk.

In 2018, Resolution Copper funded a new Tribal Monitor Training hosted by the USDA Forest Service, a program designed to train and employ tribal members in survey work identifying and recording traditional cultural locations alongside archaeologists. The program has already provided participants with career opportunities as well as a valuable resource for the Forest Service, which posted a blog about the program on their website.

Special protection for Apache Leap

Under federal legislation, more than 800 acres of land will be set aside to permanently protect and preserve Apache Leap, while the Forest Service will work with stakeholders to develop a land management plan for the area. We’ve designed our mine plan to protect Apache Leap and will monitor the area throughout construction and operation of the proposed mine, and as well as after it is closed and the land reclaimed.

The Oak Flat Picnic Area and Campground

Included in the land exchange is the 760-acre Oak Flat Picnic Area and Campground Withdrawal.

In 1955, the government restricted mining on Oak Flat, along with many other lands in Arizona and New Mexico, to protect capital improvements it had made on the land. In 2004, the United States Bureau of Land Management issued an order that allowed mining activities to resume in many of these areas.

We respect the importance of the Oak Flat area to many Native American people, and have committed to give the public access to the Oak Flat Campground for as long as it is safe. We hope we can work with neighboring Native American tribes by answering and addressing their concerns.

Building strong Native American partnerships

At Resolution Copper, we know we get the best results by listening to community perspectives and partnering with community stakeholders, including Arizona’s Native American Tribes.

We respect the sovereign nature of Tribal communities and recognize that Tribes have cultural interests that go beyond the border of their reservations. It is our absolute aim to work together to preserve Native culture and provide direct employment, job training, education and commercial opportunities for Native American-owned businesses that will last for decades to come.

As part of this work, our parent company, Rio Tinto, partnered with Harvard University to produce a case study, The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, capturing how mining industries and tribes can increase economic development by establishing a trusting relationship.

Resolution Copper is committed to opening lines of communication with the leaders of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, who currently oppose the project. For more than a decade, we have reached out to them personally and to other members of the Council with numerous requests to meet. While council members have never taken us up on our offers to sit down together, we are still hopeful that this can happen, and we remain committed to opening lines of communication with the Tribe.