The short life of Lisbon Valley

 

August 1995 After four years of collecting environmental data, Summo USA Corp. applies to the Bureau of Land Management for a permit to mine copper in Lisbon Valley, roughly 40 miles southeast of Moab.

March 1997 The Moab BLM office approves the mine, but enviros appeal. June 1998 The Interior Board of Land Appeals rules against the appeal. By March 1999, Summo obtains the required state and federal permits - then copper prices plummet, and it can't find financing.

May 2002 Summo, now Constellation Copper, gets financing from a South African bank. November 2004 Construction begins.

October 2005 Construction delays cause Constellation to drop its copper production goal for 2006 from 48 million pounds to 43.5 million pounds. Workers start mining and crushing ore, then leaching it with sulfuric acid.

April 2006 Produc-tion begins; the copper-laden leach solution is processed to extract pure copper, and the company turns out 804,000 pounds of the metal.

Summer/Fall 2006 To boost production, Constellation tweaks processes. Company officials predict that in December, the operation will produce 4.5 million pounds of copper. Only 1.9 million pounds are produced. The total for 2006 comes to less than 20 million pounds.

April 2007 Monthly production hits its high point - 2.2 million pounds.

November 2007 Constellation officials announce an end to ore mining and crushing operations, citing expensive ongoing problems. Total copper production for the year is about 19.7 million pounds. Over the next two years, workers will finish processing the already-stockpiled ore; then the mine will close down completely.

January 2008 101 Lisbon Valley employees lose their jobs; mine staffing drops to 58.

This article is a sidebar to the feature

Reluctant Boomtown

A copper-mining company is courting Superior, Ariz., but the former mining town – now re-inventing itself as a modest tourist haven – is unsure whether it really wants a new marriage with extractive industry.