PATAGONIA — Carolyn Shafer walked along a winding creek bed in the Patagonia Mountains, where oak trees and junipers dotted the grassy slopes of the canyon.
The creek was mostly dry, except for a puddle in the rocky stream bed.
Shafer said she’s deeply concerned about what would happen to this creek, and surrounding water sources, if the Australian mining company South32 is allowed to conduct an exploratory operation nearby called the Hermosa Project.
South32, acting through its U.S. subsidiary Arizona Minerals, aims to extract silver, lead, zinc and manganese. The company says these minerals will feed the United States’ growing demand for base metals as the country moves toward producing more electric vehicles.