In the Spring of 2017, when my wife Sarah and I were deciding to look for a home in the Patagonia area, we sat down with some members of  Patagonia Area Resource Alliance (PARA) to learn about the potential for mining in the area. Based on that meeting, we believed it was worth taking the plunge and buying a home here. It wasn’t that we thought mining would never happen. It was because there was a citizen group we knew would work hard to hold mining up to the highest standards of mining and perhaps more.

So here we are, five years later, and it appears South32 is on the edge of pulling off a mine, according to their recently released Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) summary. 

We should have all realized it when they plunked down $1.3 billion in August 2018 for full ownership of the mine. And now we see in their PFS they have been spending around $40 million a year, possibly more, to continue their work to understand the mining potential. Further, the PFS shows that, beginning last month, they have begun spending what might eventually be $1.7 billion if the Board of South32 decides to go ahead with the project. That decision will come in mid-2023. 

Patagonia region’s residents have about 18 months to make an impact on this project and influence how it affects our lives. 

While this is important information for all of us to understand, it is also important to know that the only organized group that is dedicated to holding mining to the highest standards is PARA. After a 30-plus year as land use planning professional working both with government and industry, I have learned that having a well-organized, well-financed and educated local advocacy group pays huge dividends that the general public typically does not see.

I want to recognize PARA for all of its incredible work. And, I am asking you to consider how you can afford to support the group financially and, conversely, how you can afford not to. Their work to protect the habitats, watersheds, air quality and quality of life is often done behind the scenes but is extremely important. 

PARA is just wrapping up an over-two-week administrative hearing in Phoenix appealing an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) Issued by AZ Dept of Environmental Quality to South32. A visit to the PARA website or a careful read of their newsletter tells volumes about what they are doing. Will they or any one of us stop this mine? That I cannot answer. But I can assure you that if any mining is to take place, it will be better because PARA is there, questioning their actions, information or promises.

PARA deserves our recognition, thanks and generous financial support.