Reopened Climax Mine reports first shipment |

Reopened Climax Mine reports first shipment

Daily News staff report

Special to the Daily/Freeport McMoRan

The Climax Mine atop Fremont Pass is back in production after a 17-year hiatus. With a new mill and refurbished mining facilities, the first molybdenum concentrate, amounting to approximately 21,000 pounds of molybdenum, was shipped out the gate Thursday.

Operations in the open-pit mine began last June. The Climax Mine is now in commercial production.

First mined in 1916, almost 2 billion pounds of molybdenum have been produced from this historic mining operation. In 2007, Freeport-McMoRan announced plans to restart the Climax Mine, which had most recently been in operation in 1995. In 2008, in response to a sharp decline in molybdenum prices, those plans were placed on hold and construction activities were suspended. Construction restarted in 2010. The cost of the initial phase of the project approximates $760 million. Approximately $700 million has been spent to-date.

“I am delighted with the way our people and our contractors have responded to the challenges that normally attend a startup of this magnitude,” said Mike McDonald, Climax General Manager. “Everyone working on this project has exhibited tremendous teamwork and with a positive, problem-solving attitude. Most importantly, our employees and contractors have worked in an exceptionally safe manner. The construction contractors have set a remarkable standard for safety performance during this project. Climax controlled contractors and employees are extending a streak of 181 days without a recordable incident.”

Climax presently employs 300 people. Should the production rate increase to 30 million pounds per year, employment will increase to approximately 400.

“We are all really excited about bringing the Climax Mine back into production and providing opportunities for good jobs and a solid economic base for this area,” said McDonald. “Furthermore, we greatly appreciate the strong support we’ve received from the local county governments and from the people living in our many surrounding communities.”

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With a mine life projected to be in excess of 20 years, the Climax Mine is an open pit operation with a current mining rate of about 90,000 tons per day. The new Climax mill has a throughput capacity of 28,000 tons of ore per day. Molybdenum production is expected to ramp up to a rate of 20 million pounds per year during 2013 and, depending on market conditions, may be increased to 30 million pounds per year. Freeport-McMoRan intends to operate the Climax and Henderson molybdenum mines in a flexible manner to meet market requirements.