National Copper Month: State of the Copper Industry

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The need for copper, the 29th element on the periodic table is increasing.  Everyday, we use copper to run the water through our homes, power our electricity, turn on our cars, and of course use our phones.  Copper is everywhere, and it is the leading mineral in green energies such as wind turbines and solar panels. 

  Despite the great demand for the this red mineral, the market can often be unpredictable, based on the use across the world.  At press time the price of Copper is being sold at $2.86 a pound.  Overall, the price of Copper continues to grow from the lows of 2016 when Copper was being sold for just under two dollars.  Trade wars could affect the price of Copper but Market Watch Magazine analysts have predicted that if demand continues to grow, Copper could be selling for ten dollars a pound.

  Arizona continues to be one of the leading Copper producers. According to the Arizona Mining Association, the Arizona Mining Industry provides over 43,400 local jobs and contributes $4.29 billion to the state’s economy.  Those who don’t live near an active mine, often think that mines are closed in the area, however there are still many mines producing copper including Capstone Pinto Valley, ASARCO-Grupo Mexico in both Kearny and Silverbell and Freeport McMoRan operations in Miami, Safford, Sahuarita, Baghdad  and Morenci.  Expansion of the mines in Baghdad is spurring some development of housing and community development near Wickenburg.  The demand for Copper has also impacted the unemployment rate, which is currently the lowest in recent history, each of these mines are actively recruiting for their workforce. 

  New mining operations continue to make their way through the environmental permitting processes including HudBay Rosemont Copper project near Tucson, Taseko’s Florence Copper project in Florence and the Resolution Copper project a joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP.  Florence Copper will be conducing test operations and Resolution Copper expects that the Draft Record of Decision on their Environmental Impact Statement will be released in May of 2019.

Clean up of the Magma property in Superior continues. Resolution plans to knock the smelter, smokestacks and surrounding buildings down this month. Photo by Cat Brown.

  Resolution Copper continues to proceed with their environmental clean up of the legacy Magma Mine operations in Superior.  This fall, the iconic smelter structure will be demolished, signaling an end of an era but also ushering a new opportunity for Superior and the Copper Corridor as the Resolution Copper project will meet another milestone.  ASARCO is working with Central Arizona Government on lead abatement in homes near Hayden and Winkelman to mitigate for previous smelter emissions. 

  Arizona is home to two of the three working Copper smelters in the United States and both are in the Copper Corridor Region.  Groupo Mexico – ASARCO Hayden and Freeport McMorRan Miami Smelter have completed most of their environmental upgrades, which were mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act.

Mila Besich-Lira (449 Posts)

Mila Besich-Lira is a resident of Superior with two children. She volunteers for many local organizations. She is an experienced fundraiser and event planner for Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition. She covers some of the area town councils and schools.


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