I am John Anderson and I am not running for office. This is coming from me personally and has not been reviewed or endorsed by the Florence Town Council. I have been on the Florence Town Council for nearly six years and was on the Planning & Zoning Committee prior to my Council participation. I have been opposed to the in-situ mining process since Curis applied and was denied a permit to mine within the town limits. My opposition has been two -fold. One opposition is the environmental impact to our aquifer. The EPA has stated that the current EPA codes do not allow in-situ mining in an aquifer used for drinking water. However, BHP was given an Aquifer Exemption in 1997 which gave BHP the right to put acid into the drinking water aquifer. We have been fighting to have this exemption modified or removed.
My second opposition is the economic impact the mine will have on our community. The assessed taxes on the mine property in 2011 was $84,621 and in 2019 $82,665, dropping $1,956 in nine years. Clearly, the Pinal County Assessor does not recognize the mine as adding value to adjacent properties. What is going to happen to the values of our homes?
Several people have told me that Florence Cooper is still saying that they will have created up to 600 jobs when they go into full production. This is the same story they have told for years. Their story is that each new hire will create six indirect jobs. This does not pass the commonsense test, at least not locally. If you are talking globally such as the impact a person has by creating jobs for Amazon, China, Saudi Arabia, Hollywood, Detroit, Washington, maybe so, but not Pinal County. This theory is based on how many cycles or hands will a paycheck go through before it is totally spent. This is where the number six comes from. Typically, and globally, a paycheck will circulate six to eight times before being totally depleted. The idea is that some of the paycheck will not be spent locally and therefore loses its impact on the local economy. Think about how you spend your money and how much stays in Pinal County.
There is a cycle of circulation and re-circulation which determines how far a paycheck can go. This where the number six comes from in the economic theory that a single direct job will create six cycles, not six new jobs. No one will spend their total paycheck locally in areas which will create more local indirect jobs. The best example is that each person will save, pay taxes, invest up to 30%, passing on only 70%. After passing through six cycles the money is depleted.
My calculation is this re-circulation would create an additional 1.5 paychecks or 1.5 indirect jobs over the six cycles. Now where would these jobs take place? Where does the mine spend their money for chemicals and other supplies? Where do the mine employees live and where will they spend their money? Florence, San Tan Valley, Queen Creek, Gilbert, Coolidge, Casa Grande, Maricopa County? Specifically what new jobs, other than the mine workers, have been created in Florence?
The bottom line is that the town of Florence will see no increase in property taxes from the mine, no sales taxes from the mine. We should receive some local sales tax from mine employees if they patronize local merchants. However, we are currently facing a major capital improvement for Hunt Highway for turn lanes and traffic lights at the entrance to the mine. Plus, the on-going maintenance of Hunt Highway and Attaway. Also, the Fire Department is looking at their needs for possible chemical spill support. These costs could run into the millions of dollars. We may not have a choice since we must meet ADOT traffic standards for all our streets. We may have to divert funds to address this if it becomes a traffic safety issue. And it will not cost Florence Copper a dime! It will cost you and I, the taxpaying citizens of Florence.
Some say the mine is here to stay. Look at Globe, Miami, Superior or our other mining towns. How stable have the mines been? Look at what the mines left in those towns. Are you willing to bet your home on the stability of a Canadian copper company? How many times has the mine changed hands? BHP, Conoco, Arco, Merrill, U1 Resources, Curis, Florence Copper, and now Taseko.
I hate the legal battle we have gone through and the dollars it has cost the town. I took an oath to uphold the laws of our town and to protect our citizens. In my opinion, we have made some mistakes along the way. Would I do it again? Absolutely, and hopefully be smarter the next time.