The astronomical trials and tribulations of Constellation Copper

Dec 02, 2005 | 07:53 AM | Sean Barry

Gregory A. Hahn, president and chief executive officer of Constellation Copper Corp., has a simple motto, tested to the limit, that should be emblazoned on the company's masthead "Never give up."

When the first copper finally rolls off the production line at Constellation's Lisbon Valley Mine in San Juan, Utah, early next year, it will mark the culmination of nearly 15 years' work.

After the Lakewood, Colo.,-based company encountered opposition from environmental pressure groups in the form of groundwater appeals that reached the nation's capital, the project at times has teetered on the brink of collapse. But despite numerous costly and time-consuming obstacles, Hahn said he never considered throwing in the towel. "I raised two daughters and I tried to impress on them that you never give up," he said. "When we were hit by the appeal, one of my daughters said to me, 'You told us to never give up. It's your turn now, dad.' "

Constellation's predecessor, Summo Minerals Corp., started gathering baseline environmental data in the Lisbon Valley area in 1991. The company submitted a permit application in 1995, and two years later the Bureau of Land Management ruled in favor of the environmental impact statement.

But the development suddenly hit a wall of opposition from environmental groups, and the company spent the next two years in and out of courtrooms defending the project. One of the main concerns was that the mine would use the then relatively unknown heap-leach technology to process the copper, which environmentalists claimed potentially threatened groundwater resources.....

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