Augusta Resource Corp., which is developing the Rosemont copper project 50 km southeast of Tucson, Arizona, reported on May 23 that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had formally requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) re-initiate permitting consultation on the Rosemont copper project. The request was prompted by documented evidence of the presence of ocelot, a species of wild cat, within or near the project area. Consultation is required under the Endangered Species Act to ensure that the effects of a proposed project on listed species are avoided or minimized.

Conferencing will take place on the potential listing of species that were not considered in the original Rosemont project biological opinion. Additional information related to the effects of groundwater drawdown on aquatic and riparian species near the project area will also be included as part of this process.

The USFS will prepare a supplemental biological assessment to incorporate the additional information. In preparation of the supplemental biological assessment, the Coronado National Forest will work with Augusta subsidiary Rosemont Copper Co. and the USFWS to identify any further conservation measures needed to mitigate for effects on endangered species, if any are determined to be required.

Formal consultation and publication of the new biologic opinion by the USFWS could take 135 days to complete once consultation is initiated.

In other news related to Augusta, the company has been battling a hostile takeover bid launched by Hudbay Minerals in February. Augusta maintains that the offer greatly undervalues the Rosemont project. At that time of the initial offer, Hudbay owned about 16% of Augusta, and the offer valued Augusta at about C$540 million.

On May 16, Hudbay announced that it was extending its offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Augusta that it did not already own to May 27. The Hudbay announcement also said that Hudbay continues to monitor developments with respect to Augusta’s applications for permits required for the Rosemont project.