NEW YORK The Oracle Ridge
copper and silver mine in southern Arizona has been cleared for
reopening by Pima County officials after 16 years of
Columbia-based Oracle Mining Corp. expects to secure all
environmental approvals by early 2013 and to begin construction
immediately thereafter, according to chief executive officer
"Metal markets are good right
now, and Oracle Ridge stands out," Nicholson told AMM.
"Its a high 2.3-percent-purity copper mine with not an
insignificant amount of silver."
On Wednesday, Oracle executives
signed a memorandum of understanding prepared by the Pima
County Board of Supervisors, agreeing to 15 conditions
involving job creation, environmental stewardship and
cooperation with local regulators. The supervisors then voted
unanimously to approve the project.
The mine in the Santa Catalina
Mountains operated on and off from the late 19th century until
1996, when it shut down completely due to low copper
Nicholson said the junior mining
firm has secured an air permit, submitted an aquifer protection
application for technical review, and has a special-use permit
pending with the U.S. Forest Service. Oracle is also drilling
for samples at the site for an ongoing feasibility study.
The company has arranged a
$70-million loan from Credit Suisse to fund the project,
Nicholson anticipates an annual
production of 25 million to 30 million pounds of copper, as
well as about 360,000 ounces of silver, with a mine life of 11
The Pima County board is also involved in the approval
process for Augusta Resource Corp.s proposed Rosemont
copper project (AMM, July 9).