Southwest Sees Copper Boom

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"With prices high, the hunt for copper in the American Southwest is experiencing a revival."

With prices high and backing in place from some of the world's largest mining companies, the hunt for copper in the American Southwest is experiencing a revival.

Mining and milling operations are ramping up again in Arizona, and hundreds of jobs are up for grabs in the heart of copper country in what has long been the nation's top copper producing state.

It's a similar situation in southwestern New Mexico, where small communities have both struggled and flourished at the hands of the copper market for generations. The Chino mine has restarted its mining and milling operations after a two-year standstill.

And now in the hills of Sierra County, a new company, New Mexico Vopper Corp., plans to reopen a mine that has been shuttered for nearly three decades.

That sounds good to Walter Armijo, chairman of the Sierra County Commission.

"It's going to have one heck of an impact," he said. "The thing is jobs are real scarce here. They're hard to get."

Armijo said the project has created a buzz around the county seat of Truth or Consequences and there's also talk in the sleepy historic mining town of Hillsboro, the closest community to Copper Flat.

Longtime residents are used to the area's connection to mining, but more recent transplants see the outlying parts of Sierra County more as a place to get away from industry and the hustle and bustle of the city, Lewis said.

Some in the community do have concerns about mining in general and its potential impact on the area's scarce groundwater resources.

Regulators with the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division say the permitting process is rigorous and involves several different state agencies.

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