Rosemont answers Cyanide Beach

Cyanide Beach is a purported documentary film about the Furtei gold mine in Southern Sardinia, Italy. The film was produced by John Dougherty of Investigative Media. The film is a smear piece which attempts to associate directors of the Canadian mining company, Augusta Resource, the parent of Rosemont Copper, with environmental concerns in the Furtei mine in Italy. The implication of the film is that Rosemont cannot be trusted to be good environmental stewards of the land and in doing so, the film is very loose with the truth. The film attempts guilt by association, but as we shall see, Rosemont/Augusta had no association with the Furtei mine at the time it was abandoned.

Rosemont Copper has now responded to the film in a short video which you can see here:

I have not seen Cyanide Beach, just trailers from the film. I have read material from the website of Investigative Media and watched Rosemont’s video. The following is my understanding of what happened at Furtei based on information from both Rosemont and Investigative Media.

The Furtei mine is a gold property in Sardinia developed and operated by an Australian company called Sardinia Gold Mining, which began mining in 1997. When the oxide ore ran out in 2002, the Australian company abandoned the property, leaving a small open pit which had produced about 138,000 ounces of gold. In 2003, a Canadian junior mining company, Sargold, joined with the Italian government to evaluate the remaining potential of the Furtei mine. Sargold, shared five directors with Augusta Resource. The evaluation consisted of drilling exploration holes and recovering some gold from a small amount of leftover oxide ore. Total production was about 1,300 ounces of gold and silver.

The exploration results indicated that remaining gold would require underground mining, expensive processing, and a large initial capital investment, something Sargold was not willing to do. Other investors were interested, however. Sargold was merged into a company called Buffalo Gold in 2007.

At the time of the merger, the five Augusta directors left Sargold and Buffalo Gold thereby relinquishing any control of or responsibility for subsequent operations at Furtei. Due to the worldwide financial breakdown beginning in 2008, Buffalo Gold went bankrupt, leaving the property unreclaimed.

That is my understanding of events at Furtei.

The film Cyanide Beach was produced in 2012 when it seemed that Rosemont was well on its way to obtaining permits necessary to open a copper mine south of Tucson. Opponents of the mine were getting desperate. According to Rosemont, the film was commissioned by Farmers Investment Company (FICO) which grows pecans in the Santa Cruz Valley near the town of Green Valley. FICO is also attempting to build a housing development on its land. Both pecan growing and housing need water. Apparently FICO is opposed to the Rosemont mine because the mine will compete with it for water resources.

Cyanide Beach is nothing but a smear job, an attempt at guilt by association. The very name of the film is provocative. Cyanide is a standard, widely used, chemical employed for recovery of gold. There is no link between the five Augusta directors and the fate of Buffalo Gold and the Furtei mine. It is also not valid to compare, by implication, the very stringent environmental requirements in the U.S. with those in Italy. Besides the Furtei mine is apparently in no worse shape than that left by the original mining company.

There is an old expression: “Truth will out.” In this case it outed some very sleazy attack “journalism.”



  1. Despite numerous public viewings, John Dougherty’s “Cyanide Beach” didn’t gain much traction, because most Arizonans recognized it for what is really was.

  2. To Ricardo Small,

    See Tucson Citizen commenting guidelines, a link is at the bottom of the page.

    The Tucson Citizen does not allow: (among other things)

    * Overposting. Identical comments on multiple stories or repetitive comments that don’t further a conversation.

    Your comment has been deleted for this reason.

    1. As if you aren’t posting identical and repetitive comments, JD! Your censorship of my comments stinks! What’s wrong with you? Do you delete Horquilla’s comments or words from those who agree with your misbegotten support for the Rosemont Open Pit Copper Mine?

      Check out the link above. That’s not repetitive. It’s a video about how the Rosemont Open Pit Copper Mine is likely to drain a large area of Southern Arizona.

      Here’s another link about the toxic content of the tailings and how tailings are apt to blow around, spreading health problems:

      That cyanide problem in Italy is another major reason the Rosemont Open Pit Copper Mine should not be allowed to proceed.

      And, Rosemont modified their plans so significantly recently that a new EIS is now required, before any serious consideration can be given to permitting dumping tailings on public land.

      JD, you and your friend Horquilla ought to reconsider your blind support for such a noxious project as the Rosemont Open Pit Copper Mine.

      1. I will leave this comment up even though it commits the same violation. It does present some new material. I watched the videos. The first is from the Sonoran institute and features a hydrologist. I will leave it to others to argue hydrology – not my field. I did notice, however, that the hydrologist thinks water travels uphill, according to his cross-section. Rock formations actually dip away from the east side of the proposed pit. Water would have to travel uphill to be drained into the pit as the hydrologist alleges.

        The second video is from the Save the Santa Ritas group. It is about air quality and postulates that haboobs might spread toxic dust from the tailings. Has that happened at Green Valley yet?

        It appears that these two videos are intend to foster fear similar to Cyanide Beach: they play very loosely with the truth.

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