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The State of Copper in Arizona, the Copper State

With construction down in the U.S. and China, the copper industry is seeing a reduction in prices for the mined ore.   

| BY Kent McDill

Arizona is the Grand Canyon State, but it could also be called the Copper State based on its production of the metallic ore.

Unfortunately for Arizona, the state of copper has fallen on hard times.

Most often used in construction and electronics, the price of copper has fallen by more than 40 percent from a peak price of four years ago, and many small mining towns in Arizona are feeling the effects of the decrease.

Outside of the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa area, Arizona has numerous pockets of copper mines (there are an estimated 120 towns built around mining operations), and the state is the top copper producer, followed by Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana. There are also some copper mines in Alaska, Idaho and Missouri.

A new mining opportunity in the Tonto National Forest is being argued in the U.S. Senate, as the government land has been sold to the Resolution Copper Mining company. However, the site is considered sacred among the Apache Tribe, and there are numerous historic and archeological sites that would be damaged by any mining operation there.

The Apache argument has been enhanced by the drop in copper prices, which has also caused mining company Asarco to announce a new round of layoffs numbering over 100.

The copper mining industry, which depended on the housing and construction business for decades, saw a boost in sales when computer companies began using the metal for connectivity in its laptops and other electronic devices. By 2007, the price for a pound of copper grew over $3.

But a current drop in construction in both the United States and China has produced a drop in price, although industry experts say the trend should not continue for long.

“For this to be a permanent change, we are going to have to believe that construction is never coming back in this country and that China is never growing and those would be pretty surprise events,’’ said Arizona State University economist Dennis Huffman.

Another effect on the copper industry is the greening of the world. Copper is $100 recyclable, and some construction firms and countries around the world are trying to reduce costs and score environmental points by reusing copper materials.

Also, both the Congo and Mexico are looking to increase their own copper mining, as both areas have large deposits that could affect the American copper market.

 



About the Author


Kent McDill

kmcdill@spectrem.com

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.