Just a year ago, copper, molybdenum and platinum prices plummeted, taking mining jobs and production levels across the West down with them. Now, metal prices are climbing back, which could breathe new life into shuttered mines and shelved expansion plans. Copper behemoth Freeport-McMoRan plans to resume operations at its dormant mine in Miami, Ariz. Idaho-based Coeur d'Alene Mines says it will increase silver and gold production at a Nevada mine. For the first three quarters of this year, production at Stillwater Mining Company's platinum and palladium mines in Montana was up 16 percent. Almost 60 percent of the employees Stillwater laid off last year at one of its mines are back to work. And California's Mountain Pass mine, which closed in 2002, may reopen to feed global demand for rare earth metals, used in hybrid car batteries and military manufacturing. It would become the only rare earth metal mine operating in the U.S.
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