Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
Tracing Summo USA's family tree is not easy. The company is wholly owned by Summo Minerals, a Canadian company. Summo Minerals, however, does nothing but own its American company. In fact, all of its offices, employers and operations are in Denver, Colo. Downstairs from Summo's Denver office is another company, St. Mary Land and Exploration Company. It was a subsidiary of this U.S. company that helped start Canadian Summo Minerals by providing financial backing and selling Summo its claims on Copper Hill.
St. Mary and Summo still have a lot to do with each other. St. Mary's president, Mark Hellerstein, is the chairman of Summo's board of directors, St. Mary recently gave Summo $12.5 million for its Lisbon Valley project, and the two companies recently started a joint company, Lisbon Valley Mining Company, which will be in charge of mining Summo's Lisbon Valley claims.
Anti-mining activists speculate that St. Mary set up a Canadian company to skirt American liability laws in case there are problems with spills or cleanup at a mine. But Summo spokeswoman Karen Melfi says that Summo Minerals is Canadian because mining stocks trade at a higher price in Canada than in the United States.
Summo has yet to mine copper, but it is eager to do so. Copper prices have soared to $1.20/pound, while Summo's production costs will be less than $.60/pound.