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house Bill H.R. 687

Exchanging Mining Land For Land Conservation

Argument in favor

A land exchange between the federal government and a copper company will create thousands of jobs and help boost the local economy in Arizona. The land exchange would create the biggest copper mining site in the U.S.

Argument opposed

The Tonto National Forest is for the public, not for private companies to mine copper. Transferring land to Resolution Copper could make national landmarks vulnerable to the detriments of mining and disrupt the lives of Indian tribes & campers.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Energy and Mineral Resources
    IntroducedFebruary 14th, 2013

What is House Bill H.R. 687?

H.R. 687 — the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act — authorizes a land exchange between the federal government and the company Resolution Copper.

The bill aims to trade 5,344 acres of Resolution Copper lands in exchange for 2,400 acres from the Tonto National Forest.
Roughly 1,200 acres of the Resolution Copper land would become part of the National Forest System, and the other 4,200 acres would become conservation areas overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The most controversial piece of the bill is the granting of “special use permits” by the U.S. government to Resolution Copper so they can mine under Apache Leap —  a historical site of great importance to the Apache people. H.R. 687 includes several clauses that require the U.S. government and Resolution Copper to hold consultations with affected Indian Tribes and locals, but such discussions are not required to take place before the bill passes.

Other details of the bill include rules of the appraisal, in other words, the rules for valuing the land being exchanged.


Native American tribes that have historical connections to the land, people who use Resolution Copper products, Arizona, the Department of Agriculture, Resolution Copper Mining, LLC, the National Forest System, and the Secretary of the Interior.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 687

$500.00 Thousand
The CBO cost estimate found that implementing the bill would cost less than $500,000 annually.

More Information

Of Note:

The climbing demand for copper in the U.S. and heavy reliance on foreign sources for the metal is a driving factor behind the support for H.R. 687. Sponsoring Rep. Paul Gozar (R-AZ) estimates the bill will lead to the production of 1 billion pounds of copper per year for 40 years:

“Copper is a critical metal used in the production of electronics, transportation, machinery, and renewable energy technologies, among other uses. Increased American copper mining will create thousands of jobs, and increase economic activity.”

But the bill also has major opposition. Earthworks, a non-profit organization that advocates against the harmful impacts of mineral and energy development, says it opposes the land exchange outlined in the bill, along with several other Indian Tribes:

“The proposed mining area is not only prized by birders, campers, climbers and hikers, the tribes in the area consider it sacred. The San Carlos Apache tribe is actively opposed to the land exchange and potential mine because of the destructive impacts it would have on the surrounding ecosystem and traditional use lands.”

21 Organization have lobbied on behalf of H.R. 687. Most notably, the Rio Tinto group, a British-Australian multinational metals and mining corporation based in London, spent $800,000 on lobby expenditures. The Smith Free Group, a boutique lobby firm, spent $150,000.


Sponsoring Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Press Release


Resolution Copper FAQs

Arizona Mining Reform Coalition Opposition Letter

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Julie Edgley)


Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013

Official Title

To facilitate the efficient extraction of mineral resources in southeast Arizona by authorizing and directing an exchange of Federal and non-Federal land, and for other purposes.