Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Art Anderson has dismissed an
attempt by the Town of Florence, Arizona to take nearly 1,200 acres of
private property away from Florence Copper Inc.
The decision is the latest in a series of legal victories for Florence
Copper which continues to successfully defend itself against a variety
of legal actions taken against it by the Town of Florence.
Florence Copper’s legal successes indicate that the Town’s opposition to the project is not supported by the law.
The Opportunity Ahead
The Town acknowledges its obligation and desire to encourage the
creation of jobs and investment for the benefit of its citizens. The
Florence Copper Project offers that opportunity and benefit, and it does
so without the environmental impacts normally associated with
traditional mining methods.
Rather than continue to wage expensive legal battles against the
project, the right and reasonable thing for the Town to do is take a
fact-based position on the project. Proceeding with a Production Test
Facility will deliver those facts. Only after the safety of the project
is proven will the state and federal agencies charged with safeguarding
the public’s drinking water supplies permit the project to move to full
The court ruling stems from a lawsuit initiated by the Town against Florence Copper Inc. in October 2013.
Florence Copper Inc. intends to conduct copper-recovery operations on
its property (and on adjacent State Trust Land, pursuant to a mining
lease), in accordance with its position that mining is a legal
nonconforming use of its land within the Town of Florence.
The Town sought to stop the operation from proceeding by asserting an
“eminent domain claim” over the property. However, the court agreed
with Florence Copper’s argument that the Town lacks the legal grounds to
expropriate the company’s property and thus, the eminent domain claim
should be dismissed.
The Town is also seeking a court ruling that mining on the company’s
private property is not a legal nonconforming use. If they fail on that
argument they could once again initiate a claim for eminent domain,
although it is unlikely that they would be successful. Moreover, before
the Town may take the property by eminent domain, it must first pay
Florence Copper its fair market value.
A Series of Legal Defense Victories for Florence Copper
The superior court’s ruling is the latest in a series of legal successes
for Florence Copper as they defend themselves against the Town’s legal
tactics intended to stop the Florence Copper Project from moving
In April 2012, the Town unsuccessfully sought to condemn the
company’s administrative offices on health and safety grounds. After
Florence Copper filed for injunctive relief, the Town agreed that
Florence Copper’s employees could return to their offices and paid the
company $100,000 in damages as a result of the Town’s action.
In August 2012, the Town passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of
50 gallons or more of sulfuric acid within Town limits for any purpose
besides agricultural use. The Town subsequently withdrew the ordinance
after Florence Copper filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop its
In a third legal action, the Town joined with Johnson Utilities and
two other private parties to prevent the Arizona Department of
Environmental Quality from issuing an Aquifer Protection Permit for the
operation of Florence Copper’s Production Test Facility. That lawsuit
was dismissed in 2013 by the court because it lacked sufficient legal
grounds. The ruling was upheld on appeal.
Florence Copper’s Administrative Building on Hunt Highway