The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to approve a federal land swap deal involving nearly 2,500 acres of land known as Oak Flat in the Tonto National Forest.
Resolution Copper Mining is interested in the land because it is expected to hold a rich vein of copper.
In exchange for Oak Flat, the federal government would receive a total of 5,400 acres in various parcels.
U.S. Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick co-authored the bill.
“Arizona’s unemployment is higher than the national unemployment, but in our rural communities it’s even higher,” Kirkpatrick said. “This is an area where people have been miners for generations, and they want these jobs.”
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva opposes the bill.
“Here we are today, debating a sweetheart piece of legislation that hurts taxpayers, and comforts a foreign, multinational mining corporation,” he said. “One has to wonder about what the priorities for this Congress really are.”
An amendment proposed by Grijalva, guaranteeing a mine operations center in Superior, Ariz. was voted down.
Whether approved or not, the issue will head to the Senate, where a similar bill is backed by U.S. Sen. John McCain.