Local opposition is significant since the Curis mine is located very close to the center of Florence, abuts the Gila River and shares boundaries with planned residential housing developments. The Florence Zoning Commission voted unanimously against rezoning of the property and the City Council later ratified the denial.
Bateman-Espinoza said, “Generally speaking, I support copper mining. It has played a major role in the lives of the citizens of the towns and cities of Pinal County. However, this is a Florence issue and I support the Florence residents, the local elected officials and the zoning commission who have opposed the Florence Copper Mine. They clearly feel there are too many safety concerns over in-situ mining and there are no guarantees or safeguards for the local water table.”
“People may not be interested in my opinion,” Bateman-Espinoza said, “but I bring this issue forward because it is relevant to the current election; it reflects how different candidates view their role as supervisor. As your county supervisor, this mining project would not be an issue for me to be involved in unless the Town of Florence specifically asked for my assistance. I believe in local rule, and this is/was a matter to be decided upon by the Florence residents and their elected officials.”
Bateman-Espinoza pointed out Florence residents should know the current supervisor sees this differently. Pete Rios, the current supervisor, whose daughter is an employee and lobbyist for Curis Resources Ltd, has expressed support for this mine, despite the significant local opposition. “If this was only about Mr. Rios’ opinion, this would not be important. What changes that is the fact he has been petitioning state legislators to ignore Florence residents and to grant permitting for mining operations.”
Bateman-Espinoza believes Rios should publicly declare his personal and financial conflict of interest, since his daughter is paid to get the mine in full operation regardless of the public interest. “Pete Rios forgets who he works for. Rios must declare his conflict of interest. He should represent local elected officials and the majority of residents and protect our water table. Instead, Pete Rios supports his own interest, even over the environment and the clear will of the people he’s elected to represent.” Said Bateman-Espinoza
Bateman-Espinoza said she fully support traditional open pit and subterranean mining, which continues as an integral part of Pinal County’s economy and heritage.