The results of a 2014 Economic Impact Study, conducted by the W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, demonstrate the Gunnison Copper will provide a major economic boost to the local communities, Cochise County, and the State of Arizona.
Highlights of the Gunnison Copper Project Economic Impact Study:
- Creation of an average of 819 jobs annually state-wide:
US$2.94 billion added to Arizona's Gross State Product
- 108 direct, on-site jobs
- 711 in-direct or “secondary” jobs
- US$319.9 million in state revenue generated directly from the project
- US$756.8 million in economic activity generated from the project in Cochise County alone
Advantages of the In-Situ Extraction Method
In-situ extraction presents several environmental and aesthetic advantages over conventional extraction. One of the most important advantages is that in-situ extraction cannot create any acid mine drainage. In a conventional extraction scenario, such as an open pit, the digging process exposes rocks sitting underground for millions of years. These rocks, which occur in the dumps and line the shell of the open pit, react with the atmosphere and the chemical result is the creation of acid. The acid drains into the groundwater that naturally flows through the pit. This is a serious problem. In fact, acid mine drainage is the reason for many of the super fund sites in the world today. Because in-situ extraction does not dig up the host rock at all, there is no possibility for acid mine drainage to occur at the Gunnison Copper Project. Furthermore, the most effective remediation method for any of these contaminated sites employs the process of hydraulic control – this is the same procedure that is designed into in-situ mines from the very beginning.
Additionally, in-situ extraction allows for the following advantages:
- Little to no surface disturbance – Unlike a conventional mine, there will be no permanent scarring of the landscape. When extraction activities have concluded, then all of the buildings and infrastructure can be removed; thereby, allowing the area to be used for a new purpose or just left in its natural state.
- Remediation of the groundwater – Upon the completion of extraction operations, water quality at the Gunnison Copper Project will be returned to the levels as mandated by the state and federal regulatory agencies.
- Recycling of water through a closed-loop system – The majority of the water used in the in-situ copper recovery process is recycled.
- Low water use – Compared to a conventional mine, in-situ recovery uses less water. Furthermore, in-situ extraction uses a fraction of the total water consumed as compared to the major water-using industries of Arizona.
- Unique geological formations provide additional protection from a negative environmental event – The host rock of the Gunnison Copper deposit is a natural acid consumer. Additionally, the site is bordered by limestone rock formations that will act as a barrier in the extremely unlikely event that any acid should escape beyond the extraction area. Gunnison Copper Project will not contaminate any local water wells.
- No dust – One of the most common complaints about a traditional extraction project is the amount of dust created through operations. Because there is no physical digging up of the earth, extraction activities at the Gunnison Copper Project will not generate any significant levels of dust.
- Low noise – A typical in-situ well field is practically silent.
- No extraction fleet – A conventional extraction operation involves a large extraction fleet of big diesel trucks that generate noise, dust, emissions and traffic congestion. In-situ copper recovery does not require an extraction fleet.
- No tailings piles – In Arizona today, it is common to see large piles of tailings throughout the state. Not only are they unsightly, but the potential for wind to send dust particles in all directions is also a common complaint against extraction projects. These piles have the potential to create acid mine drainage. One of the major advantages of in-situ extraction is that the entire process is contained. The movement of solutions below the surface is completely controlled via the process of hydraulic control.
- No explosives – In-situ copper recovery does not require the use of any explosives. Additionally, there is no need for the host rock to be physically fracked as the ore body is already naturally fractured.