The OHMI Pima County, an international man-environment observatory, was created on January 1st, 2014 by the Institute Ecology and Environment and the Institute of Human and Social Sciences of the CNRS. As with all OHMs, its mission is to structure and organise scientific research around a specific environment that has a major disrupting event with a strong environmental and socio-economic impact. They encourage interdisciplinary research and create databases with the data collected.
Under the UMI iGLOBES, a CNRS research center based at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Pima County Observatory's main focus of study is the territory that will be used to open the Rosemont copper mine (originally planned for in 2014), situated in southern Arizona, about 80 miles from Tucson. The mine has reserves estimated at 2.7 Bt of copper, which may account for more than 10% of US production, and which must be exploited with new "environmental techniques" for water treatment and recycling. The development of this mine will be related to that of other mines in the region, in order to compare the ecological effects on groundwater, biodiversity, land use, air quality, etc and the health, economic and social impact on neighboring populations (residential communities, expanding urban peripheries, Indian reserves).
Other sites are also of interest: established for many years, they represent different stages in the life of a miner and therefore already show observable ecological and societal effects, and can give a basis for comparison. The mission of the observatory is to study people's involvement in the environmental regulation that is governed since 1970 by US rules and laws that are relatively restrictive.