South32 representatives presented an update of mining company activities at the Nov. 13, 2019 Town of Patagonia Town Council meeting. During that update, South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner stated that South32 had saved the taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars” because of the installation of the active water treatment plant as part of the remediation plan to clean-up toxic environmental damage left by a former mining company owner of the 300 acre Trench Mine. Risner’s statement is not completely accurate. 

According to a press release by AZ Mining Inc and as reported in a July 24, 2015 Cision PR Newsire, the consideration for the acquisition of the site was “. . . the assumption of the environmental liabilities relating to the site that resulted from historic mining activity. The Company has submitted a remediation work plan that addresses the environmental liabilities with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and will construct a passive water treatment system estimated to cost US $2.6 million, excluding contingency, of which the Company’s share will be US $1.6 million.” 

It is only because Patagonia Area Resource Alliance (PARA) retained a toxicology and chemical remediation expert and submitted a report to AZ Dept. of Environmental Quality that the State of AZ required a upgraded plan to an active water treatment plant that cost “tens of millions of dollars.” 

As a corporation, South32’s primary legal and financial duty is to its shareholders to increase its market value. Keeping the local community quiet is important, as it is detrimental to its stock value if investors perceive that there is resistance to a mine company’s plans. 

PARA recognizes that the health and economic prosperity of our community are tied deeply to the well-being of the Patagonia Mountains and the Harshaw/Sonoita Creek watershed and PARA will continue to educate the community about the risks and realities of 21st century industrialized mining.