Thursday, January 01, 2015

Arizona copper mining had ups and downs in 2014

Copper prices dropped 50 cents a pound during 2014, from $3.38 to $2.88 per pound putting pressure on Arizona mines.  Mineral Park Mine, an open pit copper mine north of Kingman, announced on December 29 that they were shutting down and laying off 380 workers.    The mine's owner, Canadian based Mercator Mineral Park Holdings Ltd., had filed a bankruptcy notice back in August and had been trying to sell the mine.

But other copper projects around the state moved forward.

Resolution Copper released its Mine Plan of Operations publicly in January and reported at the recent SME Arizona conference that it was deemed complete by Tonto National Forest.   Resolution also announced that Shaft #10 reached a depth of 6,943 feet, a US record [right, credit Resolution Copper].    The other big news for Resolution was signing into law the land exchange the company said is essential to moving the project forward.  Resolution's underground copper mine is project to provide a quarter of U.S. copper demand for 40 years.

Hudbay Minerals bought out Augusta Resources, parent company of Rosemont Copper, which is permitting an open pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.  Repeated delays in federal permitting pushed Augusta to sell to the larger Hudbay with it's deeper pockets.  Hudbay is reportedly finishing up a drilling program on their private lands to gather additional technical information on the deposit.    
Florence Copper Inc., developer of an in situ copper project, was taken over by Taseko Mines Limited.   Real estate developers in the area have been fighting the project and this fall, the Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board, remanded a permit back to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for further review. Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the project an Underground Injection Control (UIC) draft permit.   Florence Copper said this permit "regulates the construction and operation of Florence Copper’s injection wells at the site and is the final regulatory milestone required of Florence Copper to operate its Production Test Facility (PTF) in Florence, Arizona using in-situ copper recovery (ISCR) technology."


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