August 23, 2013

Arizona sees major benefits from copper mining industry

A new study had indicated that the copper mining industry contributed about…

A new study had indicated that the copper mining industry contributed about $12.1 billion to the economy in Arizona and created roughly 73,100 jobs in 2010.

The $12.1 billion impact on the state’s economy marks a 31 percent increase from 2009. Arizona’s copper industry expanded as the overall copper sector benefited from higher copper prices, which were slightly offset by a small decrease in production.

In 2010, the average price for refined copper was about $3.43 per pound, growing from an annual average of about $2.37 per pound the year before. With a 2 percent decrease in production on the year, copper mining now stands poised for growth.

Data from the American Mining Association shows copper has played a major part in advancing the state’s economy. The report shows copper mining contributed to about $3.6 billion in personal income, $2.5 billion to Arizona goods and services businesses, and more than $0.2 billion in revenues for state and local governments.

According to The Tucson Citizen, the positive economic impact of copper mining is partially attributable to the copper deposits near Green Valley, where one stretches below the surface for 20 miles.

The news source states the Sierrita-Esperanza deposit is one of the oldest in the region and is in the shape of an inverted teacup – the typical shape of a prosperous ore deposit, according to the Lowell and Guilbert porphry copper model. The site boasts the only known deposit of rhenium in the U.S., as well as gold, silver, lead and zinc in addition to copper.

Another mine, the Twin Buttes site, has similar mineralization but could be even larger, the media outlet stated. Geological services firms find the area highly interesting due to its seismic activity that is thought to have split the two mines from one massive site into two smaller projects.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, copper mining entails many processes, from extraction of the metal from low-grade ores to smelting and electrolytic refining, which produces a pure copper cathode.

Its siganture properties include high ductility, malleability, and thermal and electrical conductivity, which have made the metal highly desirable as an industrial ingredient. Its resistance to corrosion has also led copper to be used widely, ranking second behind iron and aluminum in industrial metals.

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