Copper Flat Copper Mine

Copper Flat Mine, the beautiful color of the pond is created by chemical pollution, northeast of Hillsboro, New Mexico.

Much has been written about the Copper Flat Copper Mine, some of it may be true.  I will try not to add to the problem with this post.  The oxide cap at the site was mined for copper oxide for twenty years (1911-1931) - the Sternberg Shaft - but only 200 short tons of ore was mined.  After that a copper leach plant may have operated but production figures, if any, are not known.  The copper pit at Copper Flat has not been successfully mined for its copper content.  It operated for a short time as the Quintana Minerals Corporation but that operation had more to do with eliminating personal liability than with mining copper, the loan for the mining operations had a provision which made the borrowers personally responsible for the loan until the mine had operated for a set period.  The mine operated during this period (March 1982 to June 1982) and once the personal liability exposure had lapsed the mine ceased operations.  Sworn expert testimony to this effect, supported by loan papers was presented at the trial over NMCC’s claimed water rights.  BLM treated this period of operation as a bonafide mining operation.

Water rights, groundwater contamination, and groundwater drawdowns are a major area of contention in the proposal to restart the Copper Flat Copper Mine.  The latest determination on water rights is found at Copper Flat Water Rights Determined - Round One and the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law recorded on December 28, 2017.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was issued by the United States Bureau of Land Management in response to a request by New Mexico Copper Corporation (owned by developers from British Columbia).  Knowledgable commenters found the DEIS grossly deficient.  As one would expect from the trump administration the Bureau has decided to accept it as the basis for its Final Environmental Impact Statement.  The DEIS is provided below in several files:


The index to the extensive comments on the DEIS can be found on the original Black Range website.

References used by those commenting on the DEIS:


The photograph above and those following, of the Copper Flat Mine, were taken from the summit of Black Peak on August 5, 2016.

Copper Flat Mine below Animas Peak.

Native Copper from the Copper Flat Mine Hillsboro Mining District, Sierra County, NM, USA
Specimen at the Mineral Museum New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro, New Mexico
Photograph taken April 6, 2016

Chalcopyrite, Biotite, Quartz (CuFeS2)
From the Copper Flat Mine, Hillsboro Mining District Sierra County, NM, USA.
Specimen at the Mineral Museum New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro, New Mexico.
Photograph taken on April 6, 2016



© Robert Barnes 2018