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The Florence Town Council this week ended a years-long battle with Florence Copper that has cost millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the company has continued toward full-scale mining of a valuable copper deposit and has been contributing to the community financially and otherwise as a solid corporate citizen. The future holds more benefits for the town.

Decades ago, a previous owner contemplated strip-mining the property, which would have created more jobs but also a much larger environmental impact. Florence Copper is utilizing in-situ mining, which leaches the copper from the ground with a weak acid solution. The process involves extensive engineering, monitoring and other safeguards and has been endorsed by the federal and state governments.

People are concerned about their water and other potential pollution these days, and that is a good thing. However, the original opposition was fueled by land speculators and the former owner of Johnson Utilities, and the town government got behind it. Meanwhile, Florence Copper received a series of victories in court that finally resulted in the town having to pay its legal bills. That is on top of an annual expenditure by the town for its side of the dispute that went on for a long time.

Copper is a much-needed material, especially in today’s electronic world, and it is found in relatively few places. It long has been a big part of the economy in Pinal County and Arizona.

The future holds a better outcome as the project gears up. Benefits include jobs, taxes and the contributions that the company makes to the community. Even though it had little choice, the current Town Council should be commended for moving beyond the troubled past. Combined with the prospects of the long-term Resolution Copper project in Superior, copper is returning to prominence in Pinal, and the citizens will see much reward.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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