Pumpkin Hollow Mine plans to resume production when restrictions ease
Nevada Copper’s Pumpkin Hollow copper mine in Nevada came online in December 2019 as the newest significant copper producer in the United States but it halted production during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its officials announced that production will resume as soon as virus restrictions ease and copper prices rise and until then, the company will focus on continuing to develop its infrastructure.
“We decided since we have to finish the underground development, and with the China trade war, COVID, the copper prices, we put the mill on standby,” Vice President for External and Government Relations Tim Dhyr said in an interview with the Mason Valley News.
Copper prices stood at $2.33 per pound as of May 15, according to the Nasdaq, down from $2.86 in January. The prices tanked in April, dropping to a low of $2.10 per pound.
“Copper prices dropped like a rock when the coronavirus hit,” Dhyr said. “The demand in China went down. China was the main purchaser of the concentrate. There’s no benefit to us to produce at $2.20.”
The Pumpkin Hollow project includes an underground mine, an openpit development and greenfield exploration. For now, the mine will focus on completing development of the underground operation during the production suspension, Dhyr said.
The main shaft of the underground mine has about 2,700 m (9,000 ft) of lateral development. Nevada Copper estimates there is about 635 million pounds of copper accessible through the underground mine.
During peak production, 25 employees at a time can go into the underground mine. With COVID restrictions, just six at a time can go down.
Production at the mine was suspended in early April. Dhyr said the mine is hoisting what ore it can and hopes to be back in production in late summer or early fall.
About 20 employees were furloughed because of COVID but another 200 or so remain employed and working on site, Dhyr said.
“We’ll be bringing people back as soon as conditions are right,” he said.
Pumpkin Hollow also has an openpit mine with about five billion pounds of copper and a 20-year life. It also has 100,000 tons of ore stockpiled.