Arizona court hands key legal victory to Hudbay’s Rosemont copper project

Canada’s Hudbay Minerals’ (TSX, NYSE:HBM) proposed Rosemont copper mine in Arizona scored a key legal victory this week after a Court of Appeals overturned Tuesday a 2015 ruling blocking its air quality permit.

The appeals panel’s decision, Tucson.com reports, eliminates one of three pivotal regulatory hurdles still blocking the $1.5 billion mine's go-ahead.

While the project is now heading into what could be a final round of government permitting, low copper prices may cause further delays.

Contrary to arguments made by some project’s opponents and the lower court judge, the three-judge panel ruled there was “substantial evidence” that the operation near Tucson would not exceed air quality standards.

While Rosemont is now heading into what could be a final round of government permitting, low copper prices may cause further delays.

In February, Hudbay Minerals booked an impairment charge of $114.5 million on the project for the last quarter of 2015, citing weak metal prices as one of the main reasons. It also flagged expected delays in the start of construction.

The Toronto-based miner, which inherited Rosemont when it acquired Augusta Resource in July 2014, is now waiting for approvals from the US Forest Service on the project’s overall plans and the US Army Corps of Engineers on a Clean Water Act permit.

The agencies have said they expect to make decisions before the end of the summer.

The Rosemont project, located about 50 km southeast of Tucson, is expected to be the third-largest copper mine in the US, employing about 400 people. It would account for approximately 10% of the country’s total copper production.