Copper

Native Copper - Cu
Copper Flat Mine, Hillsboro Mining District, Sierra County, NM, USA
 Mineral Museum New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro, New Mexico
Photograph taken on April 6, 2016

Copper, the mineral, and Copper, the commodity, are intertwined with the most recent history of this area.  Some of the issues which make copper mining so controversial were outlined below.  The geologic unit (Kcpm) known as the Copper Flat Quartz Monzonite is poorly known.   The piece of native copper shown above was mined at the Copper Flat Mine.

(The Copper Flat Copper Mine, especially the current mining proposal, is very controversial in this area and everything associated with it is suspect in the minds of many.  The study of the proposal performed by the Bureau of Land Management is farcical in its substance and lack of appreciation of fact, that has not helped the situation and has created barriers to effective communication about the Copper Flat issue.  It is, however, a fact of life.

Part of the problem with any discussion of the Quartz Monzonite unit at Copper Flat is that it is rather poorly studied.  For all of cited work in the area and the definitely stated opinions there are still obvious gaps in our understanding of this geologic structure.  That said, that could be said about much of the geology of the world and especially those sites which have significant geologic complexity, like that of the eastern Black Range.

The chart to the right shows the price volatility of copper over the last 45 years.  The most recent price increases have been driven by Chinese imports of the metal.  It is not known how the trump administration anti-China policy will affect those imports and deflate the price of copper.)

Mindat.org has an excellent description of copper the mineral.  Copper (as Azurite) is shown in the specimen shown below, from the Copper Rose Mine, Santa Rita District, Grant County, NM, USA.  The specimen was photographed at the Mineral Museum, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico.

The issue with copper in this part of the world is the amount of water used and the amount of water poisoned by copper operations.  Usage and pollution associated with the mining of this mineral far outstrips all other uses of water and overwhelms any potential economic benefit for the local economy.  These issues are discussed, at length, in the comments to the (extremely poor) Draft Environmental Impact Statement on proposed operations at Copper Flat published by the Bureau of Land Management.


Copper ps. Azurite, Cu
 Copper Rose Mine, Santa Rita District, Grant County, NM, USA
 Mineral Museum New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro, New Mexico
Photograph taken on April 6, 2016


© Robert Barnes 2018