Arizona’s Resolution Copper Mine Approved With Defense Reauthorization

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In Arizona’s Copper Triangle, 1.6 billion tons of copper ore has been trapped beneath 7,000 feet of rock for billions of years and under a pile of paperwork for a few more, but a development last week has finally put the motherlode of precious metal within reach.

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Geologists estimate Resolution Mine could supply the country with 25% of its copper needs for the next 40 years, for everything from home and building construction, car manufacturing, power connectivity and wind turbines to medical supplies, appliances and money. Resolution Mining Company, a joint project of 2 of the world’s biggest mining firms, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, has already spent $1.2 billion to dig a 28-foot-in-diameter shaft some 1.3 miles down, but until just days ago, environmental concerns and the complaints of Native Americans left it uncertain whether the mine would become an engine of Arizona’s economy, or remain merely an impressive hole in the ground.

Buried deep in the 1,600-page National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 that President Obama signed last week was language facilitating a land swap in which the mining company will get 2,400 acres of federally owned land surrounding the mine in the Oak Flat area of the Tonto National Forest in exchange for 5,300 acres of its pristine private land. The deal paves the way for full build-out of the mine, near Superior, 60 miles east of Phoenix. It sits among 80 other active mines in the Arizona Copper Triangle, but once operational, will be the largest in the country – by far.

Strengthening prices ended a three-day flat streak as the price of Chinese bright copper scrap moved up by 0.5% on Tuesday, December 23 to CNY 40,400 ($6,492) per metric ton. Chinese copper bar closed 0.4% lower at CNY 47,420 ($7,620) per metric ton. The cash price of Chinese copper weakened by 0.4%, settling at CNY 47,620 ($7,652) per metric ton. The price of Chinese copper wire fell 0.1% to CNY 46,620 ($7,492) per metric ton.

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The price of US copper producer grade 122 saw little change in its price yesterday at $3.61 per pound. The Japanese copper cash price saw little price change on Tuesday at JPY 785,000 ($6,533) per metric ton. The price of US copper producer grade 102 held steady around $3.80 per pound. The price of US copper producer grade 110 showed little movement yesterday, hovering around $3.61 per pound.

Following two days of rising prices, the primary copper cash price dropped 0.3% on the LME to $6,426 per metric ton. The 3-month price of copper changed direction with a 0.2% drop. After two days of improving prices, the metal finished at $6,381 per metric ton on the LME.

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