On May 10 the Climax Mine near Leadville, CO shipped its first molybdenum in 17 years.
With a new mill and refurbished mining facilities, the first molybdenum concentrate, amounting to approximately 21,000 lbs of molybdenum, was shipped out the gate.
Freeport-McMoRan spent $700 million on a new mill and other equipment in preparation for reopening. Mine officials said production is expected to reach 20 million lbs/year by 2013 and could increase to 30 million lbs/year.
Freeport-McMoRan Operations in the openpit mine began last June and the mine is now in commercial production.
Nearly 2 billion lbs of molybdenum have been produced since the mine first opened in 1916. In 2007, Freeport-McMoRan announced plans to restart the Climax Mine, which had most recently been in operation in 1995. In 2008, in response to a sharp decline in molybdenum prices, those plans were placed on hold and construction activities were suspended. Construction restarted in 2010. The cost of the initial phase of the project approximates $760 million.
“I am delighted with the way our people and our contractors have responded to the challenges that normally attend a startup of this magnitude,” said Mike McDonald, Climax General Manager told the Summit Daily News. “Everyone working on this project has exhibited tremendous teamwork and with a positive, problem-solving attitude. Most importantly, our employees and contractors have worked in an exceptionally safe manner. The construction contractors have set a remarkable standard for safety performance during this project. Climax controlled contractors and employees are extending a streak of 181 days without a recordable incident.”
Climax presently employs 300 people.
“We are all really excited about bringing the Climax Mine back into production and providing opportunities for good jobs and a solid economic base for this area,” said McDonald. “Furthermore, we greatly appreciate the strong support we've received from the local county governments and from the people living in our many surrounding communities.”
With a mine life projected to be in excess of 20 years, the Climax Mine is an open it operation with a current mining rate of about 90 kt/d (99,000 stpd). The new Climax mill has a throughput capacity of 28 kt/d (31,000 stpd). Freeport-McMoRan intends to operate the Climax and Henderson molybdenum mines in a flexible manner to meet market requirements.