Many of you have heard that Congressional Representatives Gosar and Kirkpatrick have re-introduced the Land Exchange legislation into this session of Congress. We do not have further information than it appears to be similar to Gosar’s bill of last year.
Please keep in mind that following years of negotiations that began in 2004, the Queen Creek Coalition signed a Recreational Use License with Resolution Copper in July of 2012. It provides for QCC to manage the rock climbing on Resolution Copper’s private property that includes The Pond and Atlantis. Under the License QCC is responsible for communications and permitting of that climbing on private property. QCC will be disseminating the process for such registration soon and is setting it up so that while parties need to register to have legal access, the registration process does not include an endorsement of the Mine or Land Exchange by the individual climber.
It is the hope of QCC the economic benefits of a potential copper mine can seed sustainable, "green" economy based on the tremendous recreational and conservation resources in the region. This Grand Solution of a Desert Greenbelt around the mining activities has been a guiding principle of the QCC since day one and we remain committed to its creation and implementation.
July 11 2012
Press Release sent out today
Resolution Copper and Queen Creek Coalition reach long-term license agreement
Pact allows rock climbing and hiking to continue on RCM property for QCC registrants and provides resources for future development to offset climbing opportunities lost to the mine's development.
PHOENIX, Ariz., July 11, 2012 -- Resolution Copper Mining Limited and the Queen Creek Coalition have signed a long-term license agreement that allows rock climbers and hikers continued access to some of their favorite climbing and bouldering spots on RCM private land in Queen Creek and in and around Oak Flat.
Climbing and bouldering problems and off-highway access points covered in the agreement are primarily located on RCM private land and US Forest Service land located in the region of RCM's proposed under-ground copper mine, near Superior, Ariz. When in full operation, the mine will be the largest in North America. The project is in the pre-feasibility stage and expected to begin production early next decade.
The agreement, which comes after eight years of negotiations, also provides funding to the Tempe-based group to develop other access points or climbing areas outside the mine zone to offset climbing and bouldering areas in the Oak Flat area that may be inaccessible or lost as a result of a pending legislative land exchange and mine development. QCC will act as the single point of contact with regard to rock climbing on RCM's current and future lands to educate the public about RCM's policies as land owner in return for those offsets. Persons desiring to access the routes for climbing should contact QCC for access rules and registration procedures.
Popular climbing areas including The Pond and Atlantis, which are located on RCM property and which are not currently expected to be affected by mining, will remain accessible to climbers under the agreement. It also gives rock climbers who register with QCC continued access to climbing areas in the Oak Flat area that are currently on US Forest Service land but are part of the pending land Exchange. In the event those lands transfer to RCM or are otherwise impacted by mining, QCC registrants will have access to them as long as it is safe to do so and does not interfere with mining operations. This includes access points to Upper Devil's Canyon.
QCC also will work to maximize rock climbing on current rock climbing areas such as Apache Leap, Lower Devil's Canyon and Tam O'Shanter, in addition to other current and potential rock climbing areas within the region. The agreement specifies that climbers must first register with QCC as a member or daily pass-holder to access the climbing areas. The access also may be terminated or restricted due to regulatory or safety concerns and is subject to certain other conditions to be managed by QCC.
Financial terms of the agreement and specifics of the business contract are protected by confidentiality arrangements, but in general the funds will be used to educate climbers on the acceptable and prohibited land uses covered by the license and to maximize climbing opportunities in the area through projects targeted at regional rock climbing.
RCM and QCC officials applauded the good working relationship they have achieved. "We look forward to a long and constructive relationship with our climbing friends," said Jon Cherry, project manager. "We believe it's a fair and reasonable long-term solution to a difficult and complex issue, said Paul Diefenderfer, QCC chairman.
Resolution Copper Mining is a limited liability company whose members are a subsidiary of London-based Rio Tinto – the managing member – and a subsidiary of Australia-based BHP Billiton, to develop the third largest undeveloped copper resource in the world near Superior, Ariz. The project is currently in the pre-feasibility phase and production is not anticipated until the early 2020s. The project, which will mine ore using underground block-caving methods at depths of nearly 7,000 feet below surface, currently employs more than 500 RCM employees and contractors. When in full production, the mine will employ 1,400 workers directly and generate an additional 2,300 indirect and induced jobs. The mine will be North America's largest copper producer when in full production, capable of producing more than 25 percent of the nation's demand based on today's usage.
Queen Creek Coalition is a tax exempt non-profit organization based in Tempe, Ariz., whose mission is to maximize rock climbing opportunities in the Queen Creek region, east and south of Superior, Ariz. It is one of Arizona's major rock climbing areas, with more than 700 roped climbing routes and 1,000 boulder problems. As part of its mission, Queen Creek Coalition seeks to promote safe and sustainable climbing in the region by serving as a source of information for climbers intending to visit the region. Queen Creek Coalition is the successor to Friends of Queen Creek, the original rock climber group who began negotiations with Resolution in 2004.
Summary of Recreational Use License
The parties to the Recreational Use License, Resolution Copper (RCM) and Queen Creek Coalition (QCC), have agreed to keep the License document itself proprietary. However, QCC is offering the following summary of the document and wishes to receive feedback on the general terms from interested members of the climbing community.
In overview, the Recreational Use License allows for rock climbing to continue on RCM’s private land and gives QCC a sum of money to develop additional rock climbing opportunities not in the area of mining activity.
In more specifics, the Recreational Use License does the following:
- The License will allow for continued rock climbing on RCM’s private land, which includes The Pond and Atlantis. It will also expand what previously had been described as those climbing parcels.
- The License will provide that the legal access to RCM’s private land for purposes of rock climbing will require anyone wishing to rock climb on RCM’s private property to register with QCC. This process still needs to be worked out but it is anticipated that it could be a simple one time thing for each individual or family. Climbers not registering will not have legal access and will not be covered by the Recreational Use License. They may be subject to liability for any damages that result from their use.
- QCC will act as agent to educate the climbing community as to the acceptable and prohibited land uses on RCM’s private property covered by the License.
- The License will cover climbing on Atlantis for an initial Term of Five years and will automatically be renewed for additional one-year terms, subject to additional conditions of the License.
- The License will cover climbing at The Pond for an initial Term of Five years and will automatically be renewed for additional five-year terms, subject to additional conditions of the License.
- Depending on what happens with the Land Exchange, the Recreational Use license will cover rock climbing at Oak Flat and the current access to Upper Devils for a time period of One-year with additional one year renewals.
- QCC will not oppose closing of the areas accessed by Magma Mine Road if such areas are formally designated as an Active Mining Area prior to the Land Exchange becoming consummated.
- QCC will maintain an agreed upon sum of Liability Insurance to cover the climbing activities on the Licensed parcels.
- QCC will act as a conduit of information to the climbing community and will assist in any needed education, clean-up, etc.
- RCM will give QCC a sum of money to be held in Trust for expressed purpose of QCC achieving its mission of maximizing rock climbing in the Queen Creek region and will be expressly linked to the development of climbing access and areas outside of the Mine Zone.
- QCC will still receive the monetary compensation if the Land Exchange does not occur but RCM proceeds with a valid Mining Plan of Operations to produce ore.
- QCC will assist RCM with Public Relations, including providing, from time to time, letters indicating the cooperative working relationship between QCC and RCM.
- QCC will agree NOT to oppose any future mining plan of operations, environmental impact statement (or alternative formulation of environmental oversight) offered by RCM for a period of ten years.
QCC received the determination letter from the IRS that we are a tax exempt public charitable 501c3 corporation.
As a first step in continuing negotiations with RCM we signed a 6-month temporary license agreement (same agreement as in the past) which allows climbers to continue climbing on RCM property - The Pond, Atlantis, etc. RCM will again pay for the insurance attached to the agreement. We will continue to work on other important issues.
March 28, 2012
Queen Creek Coalition, working in conjunction with the Access Fund, has re-engaged Resolution Copper in negotiations with the goal of maximizing rock climbing in the Queen Creek region. In December, 2011 Resolution presented an offer that was not acceptable to QCC. Representatives of QCC have countered that proposal with a list of alternatives - negotiations are continuing.
January 31, 2012
The full Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on H.R. 1904 (Resolution Copper’s proposed Oak Flat land exchange) on February 9, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. EST. The hearing notice also states that testimony will be taken on the version of S. 409 as reported by the committee on March 2, 2010.
January 16, 2012
Queen Creek Coalition (QCC) was formed to promote the conservation of climbing areas and the development and maintenance of public access to climbing areas. Its mission is to maximize rock climbing opportunities for the public in and near Arizona's Queen Creek Canyon.
The Queen Creek climbing area consists of nine separate areas clustered around the Oak Flat campground. For a number of years, Resolution Copper Mining LLC has been seeking to acquire the Oak Flat campground and surrounding area via legislative land exchange, in order to develop a large underground mine. The proposed large-scale mining operation will be located at the heart of the Queen Creek climbing area and would result in a significant loss of climbing.
QCC has devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to an attempt to secure an agreement with Resolution that would provide meaningful compensation for this prospective loss. It has been a long and often frustrating process that appears to have reached a conclusion. The latest offer from Resolution fell far short of providing either reasonable access to Queen Creek climbing or compensation for the anticipated loss of much of the Queen Creek climbing area. Resolution's proposed agreement contained provisions that appeared to furnish a large sum of money to develop regional climbing resources, but those provisions contained too many uncertainties.
Our principal concerns with Resolution's offer included the following:
1. The Mine Area and Euro Dog Valley, as well as the Magma Mine Road (which provides access to these areas and to the Lower Devils climbing area) could be closed almost immediately, and QCC would have to cooperate and assist with enforcing the closure.
2. The Pond and Atlantis were not secured in a reasonable way.
3. Resolution would not guarantee a way to access Upper Devils, Lower Devils or Apache Leap.
4. Resolution would provide substantial funds for developing areas outside of Resolution's zone of operations but the right to receive these funds was contingent and the funds would not be made available in a time frame that would allow QCC to provide replacement climbing opportunities.
5. Resolution wanted as a condition of the agreement for QCC to provide unspecified future letters of support on items that are not yet known. We could not do that.
As a result, QCC has sent a letter to Resolution indicating that the offer is unacceptable. The letter indicates changes that could be made that could lead to an acceptable accord, but the subject matter has been discussed at length with Resolution and the proposed agreement constitutes a rejection of these changes. Thus we do not anticipate further movement, barring a significant change in circumstances, such a new management team taking over at Resolution or a changed political climate.
Therefore, Queen Creek Coalition is and likely will remain opposed to Resolution's proposed land exchange. Further, Queen Creek Coalition will actively oppose any attempt by Resolution to close climbing areas located on public land or to close public roads by which climbing areas are accessed.
For further information please contact Queen Creek Coalition through our Facebook page or through our website, theqcc.org.