The Bulletin: Australian firm looks to drill near Patagonia

Another mining company has its eye on the mineral wealth of the Patagonia Mountains.

The Coronado National Forest has recently sent out a scoping notice that indicates it is considering a new request by a multinational mining firm to conduct an exploratory operation 10 miles south of Patagonia.

“OZ Exploration Pty. Ltd, a Delaware corporation authorized to do business in the State of Arizona, proposes to drill seven core holes to test for copper mineralization in the Guajalote Flat and Paymaster areas of the Patagonia Mountains,” wrote Richard Ahern, minerals program manager for the Coronado National Forest, in a letter dated Aug. 18 that gives the public 30 days to respond. “If approved, the proposed action would be completed, including reclamation, in less than one year (about 35 weeks) from the date of approval.”

“This is not a mine. They are just poking around to see what is there,” Ahern told the Weekly Bulletin. He said the notice has not been posted in any newspapers. Instead, Ahern said he has sent out “around 1,000 e-mails.” He said so far response has been minimal.

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Brewer hails acid-pumping mine

Brewer hails acid-pumping mine

Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services | Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011

PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer is throwing her support behind a large and controversial plan by a Canadian firm to mine copper in Florence by pumping weak acid into the ground.

Brewer attended a closed-door meeting Tuesday with executives of Curis Resources and other area business leaders, a meeting that was not on her public schedule or disclosed ahead of time. Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said no one was told because the event was secret and that Brewer was only “there to learn as much as possible about the project.”

“She hasn’t made a final decision on the project,” Benson said.

But that’s not what she told those present. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to stand together with you tonight in support of such a wonderful economic development opportunity,” Brewer said in prepared remarks obtained after a public-records request by Capitol Media Services. “I hope that we’ll be able to see this through and that Florence, Pinal County and Arizona will continue to thrive.”

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Arizona’s mining agency to shut down

Arizona’s mining agency to shut down

Office out of money, its director says, but some resources may be shifted elsewhere

by Ryan Randazzo – Jan. 20, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The state Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, which helps companies looking to dig for minerals in Arizona, will close Friday because it’s out of money, the director said Wednesday.

Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed moving its duties to the state Geological Survey when the new fiscal year begins in July, but the department with three employees and three contract workers doesn’t have the money to last that long after recent budget cuts, Director Madan Singh said.

“We would have needed supplemental funds to complete this fiscal year, and they’ve decided this is the time to close us down,” he said.

The department was created in 1939 to promote mining in Arizona, and last year, it provided 410 customers with information about mines and minerals in the state, according to the governor’s executive budget summary.

Turning its duties over to the Geological Survey will save the state $220,000 a year, according to the report. But the governor also proposes transferring $100,000 to the Geological Survey to digitize the department’s mineral records.

Downsizing of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources began last summer when the Legislature transferred the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum from the department to the state Historical Society.

The museum is scheduled to close this summer and reopen as the Centennial Museum, although not in time for the actual state centennial celebration in February 2012.

The people who will lose their jobs when the department closes include Singh, a mining engineer who conducts economic analyses of the industry, and a clerk who helps with data inquiries. The department also has three contract workers, including one who visits schools to talk about the economic benefits of mining in Arizona.

The contract workers could be transferred to the Geological Survey, which might also have money to hire part of the staff, but “the situation is very fluid,” Singh said.

The department’s main duty is to help companies interested in mining in Arizona.

“The people that normally come to us are the smaller companies that don’t have a lot of information in their own files,” Singh said. “We tell them where some past deposits have been explored and help them dealing with various agencies like (the Department of Environmental Quality) and Water Resources.”

Singh said he is disappointed to leave his job of more than five years. “I think we were doing the state and the mining industry a service, especially the new (companies) coming in that would in the long run help the state,” he said. “They create jobs and produce minerals, which we need.”

The Governor’s Office did not respond to a request for comments Wednesday.

Some geology enthusiasts said the job cuts could hurt the industry. “The new mining people that come in won’t know how to access the (mining and mineral) records,” said Mardy Zimmerman, a retired teacher who is on the board of the Friends of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, a non-profit.

“The records will be in storage when our economy could really use the new mining jobs,” she said. “We have the richest copper deposits, and we are hindering the development and furthering of mining in our state.”

She also said the job cuts don’t bode well for the museum and its plans to close and reopen as the Centennial Museum.

Zimmerman helped develop a program to teach children about minerals at the museum, and she said that losing the Department of Mines and Mineral Resource employees and moving the museum to the Historical Society could take away the scientific focus at the museum.

Mining plan spurs concern in Patagonia

Mining plan spurs concern in Patagonia

By JB Miller
The Bulletin
Published Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:20 AM CST

Over 50 people met up at the Patagonia Community Center on Jan. 5 in order to discuss a proposed mine that most agree would change the character of the small town.

“I thought it was important for people to know what was going on,” said Patagonia resident Odell Borg, who helped organize the meeting along with a half-dozen other locals who are concerned about the proposed mine that would be located just east of Patagonia along Harshaw Road.

In November, Canadian-based Wildcat Silver Corporation president and CEO Chris Jones held an informational meeting at the Stage Stop Hotel in Patagonia that was attended by approximately 20 people.

Jones said the Hardshell Silver Project would be a combined 600-foot deep, open-pit and underground operation that would cover approximately 107 acres and extract mainly silver and manganese.

He estimated the mine would use 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of water per minute on average, and that much of the water would be recycled. In all, the project would last 27 years from beginning to end and would cost an estimated $300 million.

“We are at least three years from production,” said Jones during the November meeting, adding that plans for the mine are tentative and his company still has a number of hurdles, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Immediate plans called for bringing in drills in order to take core samples, the results of which would be published sometime this year.

“What I’m trying to do here is to make sure people understand the project,” Jones said during the November meeting, “so that we walk forward knowing what the criticisms are going to be.”

But Borg said the meeting that was by invite only did not reach enough people in the community.

“It was very orchestrated at that point,” Borg said. “I just thought it was important to let the rest of the town know what is going on. And see how they feel about it. That was basically the idea.”

Borg said those that did attend last week’s meeting were “taken aback and disturbed that someone could just come in and sort of takeover.”

“It takes a lot of guts for someone to come in and say we’re going to use most of the water that is available and drive 40 ton trucks through your town all day,” he said.

Reaching out

By the end of the meeting, a lot of people were asking what they could do to have a say in future developments, Borg said.

“At this point we don’t know,” he said. “We’d love to find out a way to at least come up with some suggestions and get people together and find out what our options are.

“Right now we don’t know what our options are,” he continued. “The people living around the Santa Ritas have a lot of experience with that because of the Rosemont Mine – we don’t.”

Borg said those concerned about the Hardshell Mine are going to try contact those people challenging the Rosemont Mine and find out what can they can do.

Wildcat Silver Corporation is part of Augusta Resources companies, which is developing the Rosemont Mine.

“It’s not like an anti-mine thing,” said Borg. “We’re more concerned about our water quality and the environment and the impact the traffic is going to have on the town.”

Meanwhile, Jones said Wildcat Silver Corporation has tentatively planned another meeting for sometime in February.