Questions remain as company seeks to re-open long-defunct copper mine

Now, New Mexico Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of THEMAC Resources Group, is trying to reopen a copper mine that ran for just a few months in the early 1980s. And some residents say they don’t want that to happen.

“It’s not universal in our little community, but our group decided that it’s detrimental to the environment, and its use of water would have impacts on us,” said Hillsboro resident Max Yeh.

Yeh is worried that if the mine reopens, it would be a “huge source” of pollution—harming the area’s groundwater and streams, causing noise pollution and affecting local air quality. According to the company’s plans, the mine would produce about 100 million tons of copper ore over its estimated 16-year long lifetime, and the existing pit would be enlarged from 102 to 169 acres.

Yeh acknowledged that supporters of the mine say it will bring jobs to the area. But he said that despite romantic notions about 19th century mining, the Copper Flat mine wouldn’t be a “pick and shovel” operation but instead a heavily mechanized, open pit mine.

Already, an open pit carves out the landscape from when the mine operated briefly more than 30 years ago.

If Copper Flat reopened, Yeh said, “it will leave a huge scar on the site that will never be able to be used for anything else.”

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