Tribe sues Freeport MacMoRan over copper mine


Adam Klawonn –

Date of publication: 
27 May 2009

NEAR CASA GRANDE — The Tohono O’odham Nation claims an international mining company released hazardous substances during its search for copper on tribal lands, destroying the area’s natural resources in the process.

The tribe’s complaint involves Cyprus Tohono Corporation, a subsidiary of Freeport MacMoRan. Its members want relief for mining activities that allegedly occurred 32 miles southwest of Casa Grande on land the tribe leased to Cyprus Tohono for copper-mining purposes.

According to the complaint, mining operations have dug around the area off and on since the 1880s. In 1987, Cyprus Tohono started mining at the site, the complaint states.

The tribe claims hazardous substances such as sulfuric acid have been released, damaging the surrounding ecosystem. An investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ongoing, the complaint states.

The suit was brought on the tribe’s behalf by Jonathan L. Jantzen (Office of the Attorney general, Tohono O’odham Nation) and Sue A. Klein, assistant U.S. Attorney in Phoenix under Diane Humetewa. Humetewa, a member of the Hopi tribe, was tapped by former President George W. Bush to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. She has promised to focus more on issues affecting American Indians during her tenure.

To download a copy of the complaint, click here: