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FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — A judge has upheld a company's right to mine for copper, ruling that the town of Florence is bound by its approval of a 2003 development agreement with the property's former owner.

The Casa Grande Dispatch reports that the Jan. 3 ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger E. Brodman for Florence Copper was issued just as the company began a small-scale test of a leaching process to dissolve copper ore for extraction.

Town officials and some residents have expressed concerns about potential groundwater contamination and accident risks involving acid shipments.

Brodman wrote that Florence wanted to prohibit mining, it should have worked out a change to the development agreement under its mandated procedures, instead of adopting what Brodman called "a tortured interpretation of amendments" to the development plan.

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Information from: Casa Grande Dispatch.

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