Native American tribes and environmental groups are fighting to stop a Canadian firm from opening a copper mine in southeastern Arizona, arguing it could desecrate sacred, ancestral lands and pollute the air and water.

Opponents of the Rosemont Mine say they worry the project will dry up wells and waterways while ravaging habitat for endangered jaguar and other species. They have asked a federal judge in Tucson for an emergency order to prevent the project from proceeding while the merits of their lawsuits against the mining company are decided.

Preliminary work is set to start this summer.

This photo taken Monday, May 12, 2019, shows what's left of the Lavender pit mine outside the southeastern Arizona city of Bisbee, where the copper operation stopped in 1974. Forty five years later, the pit remains a scar on the landscape, the layering made from potentially toxic mine tailings. Native American tribes are seeking an injunction to halt work on a copper mine project they say will desecrate burial and other sacred sites in the Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)
This photo taken Monday, May 12, 2019, shows what’s left of the Lavender pit mine outside the southeastern Arizona city of Bisbee, where the copper operation stopped in 1974. Forty five years later, the pit remains a scar on the landscape, the layering made from potentially toxic mine tailings. Native American tribes are seeking an injunction to halt work on a copper mine project they say will desecrate burial and other sacred sites in the Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)

Supporters say the project will immediately create 500 jobs and pour $16 billion into the local economy over 20 years.

The fight comes amid a larger battle across the West over using public lands for mining.

This photo taken Monday, May 12, 2019, off Arizona scenic state Highway 83 shows the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains where Canadian firm Hudbay Minerals Inc. plans an open pit copper mine. Native American tribes and environmental groups have sued to stop it, saying it could harm sacred ancestral land as well as air and water quality, dry up wells and destroy habitat for the endangered jaguar and other species. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)
This photo taken Monday, May 12, 2019, off Arizona scenic state Highway 83 shows the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains where Canadian firm Hudbay Minerals Inc. plans an open pit copper mine. Native American tribes and environmental groups have sued to stop it, saying it could harm sacred ancestral land as well as air and water quality, dry up wells and destroy habitat for the endangered jaguar and other species. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)
This photo taken Monday, May 12, 2019, off Arizona scenic state Highway 83 shows the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains where Canadian firm Hudbay Minerals Inc. plans an open pit copper mine. Native American tribes and environmental groups have sued to stop it, saying it could harm sacred ancestral land as well as air and water quality, dry up wells and destroy habitat for the endangered jaguar and other species. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)
This photo taken Monday, May 12, 2019, off Arizona scenic state Highway 83 shows the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains where Canadian firm Hudbay Minerals Inc. plans an open pit copper mine. Native American tribes and environmental groups have sued to stop it, saying it could harm sacred ancestral land as well as air and water quality, dry up wells and destroy habitat for the endangered jaguar and other species. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)
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