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for copper. The estimated investment Resolution will make over
the next half-century to build, operate, and reclaim the mine:
approximately $6-8 billion with the overall economic impact at
$1 billion per year.
The company estimates that it will provide more than 1,500
direct jobs on an ongoing basis in Superior, with annual
compensation of about $134 million – and many more indirect
jobs that support the mine. At the peak of construction, they
anticipate 3,000 workers will be on the site.
Klenk says this is a major copper mining project not only for
Arizona or the US, but globally; only one on the other side of the
world in Mongolia is comparable. It will produce up to 120,000
tons of ore a day and generate up to $400 million in revenue
annually to the local, state, federal governments, with an annual
economic impact of $1 billion inside the state.
He says it’s one of the single largest investment in Arizona
history – and only a few tech giant investments are comparable.
“It’s huge,” Klenk says, “There’s not a whole lot of those kinds of
investments that occur in rural America, let alone rural Arizona.”
The project began with exploration in the area in the early
2000s, Klenk says. Resolution began sinking the first shaft –
the deepest single-lift shaft in America, at roughly 7,000 feet –
in 2008. That took four years. Now, as the second shaft makes
its way down, they remain engaged in the federal permitting
process, a lengthy endeavor involving more than a dozen
federal, state, and local agencies and input from a dozen local
The permitting process is expected to finish up this year, paving
the way for the completion of a land exchange agreed to by
Congress under the Obama administration in 2014.
Resolution’s mining operation will be completely underground,
but the mining process being used – block cave mining and
specifically panel caving – will result in gradual subsidence of
the ground above the ore deposit.
Under the deal with the federal government, Resolution will
receive 2,420 acres of surface land above its planned mine
in exchange for 5,376 acres of recreational, conservation,
and cultural lands around the state to be placed under federal
stewardship. This includes critical riparian and wildlife areas,
an archeological area, a significant rock climbing resource, and
permanent protection of Apache Leap.
Once the permitting process and land exchange are complete,
Klenk says, the company can begin the process of construction.
Currently, he says, Resolution has a warehouse containing
hundreds of miles of core samples that will be used in the
technical side of building the mine. Once Resolution has the
go-ahead from the government and the funding from Rio Tinto
and BHP, the company can begin the decade-long construction
In looking at the significance of the project, Resolution is also
looking beyond Arizona at its role in the larger scope of politics
and the economy.
“We are fully behind the idea that Resolution Copper is going to
be a driving force behind the green economy and transfer into
green power,” Klenk says, noting that it plans to operate with a
net zero carbon footprint.
But beyond that, on the technology side he sees Resolution’s
massive mine in Arizona as a catalyst, helping to push forward
technical boundaries that build a better world – from cleaner
operation to better storage of tailings to advancing technologies
that are needed to profitably access more challenging ore
“I think there are suppliers, equipment manufacturers,
everybody out there that’s looking at the challenges that this
project is going to face and right now starting to look at how to
address those challenges,” he says. “So yeah, I do think in a lot
of ways Resolution will help to usher in the new generation of
what mining is.”
As a lot of mines in the area – many of them operating for
decades or more – reach the end of their operational lives, in
some ways it’s a transitional time for the industry from older,
20th-century methods to newer, high-tech, 21st-century ones.
“That’s a trend that’s being seen across the industry, is that ore
deposits are becoming more scarce and more and more difficult
to access, and that’s not even considering geopolitical concerns
around the world… so yeah, we’re going to tackle issues on this
project that will impact the entire world,” Klenk says.
And due to the lengthy construction time frame, “We have both
the luxury and burden of time,” he says.
“Sure, it would be great to have everything done and build it to
mine right now, but we don’t, and so therefore we do have that
luxury of time to be able to rethink the way things are done. Just
because it’s always been done a certain way in underground
mining [doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it now]. We have
the chance to re-think that and find different and better ways to
produce the copper that the world is going to need.”
Superior, a small town about 60 miles east of Phoenix with a
population around 3,200, has seen buildings spruced up and small
businesses open in the last few years.