03/03/2024  In blow to Native Americans, US court approves land swap for Rio's Arizona copper mine


A U.S. appeals court on Friday narrowly ruled that the federal government may give away thousands of acres in Arizona to Rio Tinto for a copper mine, upholding a previous ruling and rejecting an argument from Native Americans that the land should be preserved for its religious and cultural value.

The 6-5 ruling from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals essentially defers to a 2014 decision made by the U.S. Congress and then-President Barack Obama to give the land to Rio and minority partner BHP for the Resolution Copper project.

The move is the latest blow to the Apache Stronghold, a nonprofit group comprised of the San Carlos Apache tribe and others who have long opposed the mine, which would destroy a site where Indigenous ceremonies have been held for generations but would, if developed, supply more than a quarter of U.S. copper demand for the renewable energy transition