The Santa Cruz County government is hiring outside legal representation to handle its dealings with the South32 mining company.

Sundt Law, PLLC will provide legal advice in all county matters related to negotiations with South32, the Australian mining company currently developing the Hermosa Project near Patagonia.

“The mine is here. They’re probably going to be in our community for 40 years and they want to work together to provide additional opportunities for our citizens,” County Manager Jennifer St. John told the NI on Wednesday morning after the board of supervisors approved an engagement letter to move forward with the arrangement.

She added that the County Attorney’s Office is short a couple of attorneys, so staff recommended outsourcing the county’s legal representation regarding South32 for at least a couple of years.

According to a county memorandum, Sundt Law will work for the county for a fee of $325 per hour. The memorandum stated that the total annual cost to the county was yet to be determined, but the services are budgeted within the board of supervisors’ budget.

“Since mines are very expertise-type knowledge, once the mine gets up and going, there’s going to be a lot of work,” St. John said of the need for legal help in dealing with South32.

“We want to look at what we can do for our citizens, what we can partner with the mine on that maybe provides additional amenities to our citizens.”

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