Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Questa mine permanently closed, 300 laid off (New Mexico molybdenum site)
The Taos News ^ | June 2, 2014 | J.R. Logan

Posted on 06/02/2014 11:20:43 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Chevron Mining has permanently closed its Questa molybdenum mine, citing low market prices and increasing operational costs.

The closure was announced at an employee meeting Monday morning (June 2). Mine officials say the closure included about 300 layoffs. Employees will be paid and receive benefits for 60 days, as required by federal law.

"It's really an economic decision," said David Partridge, president and CEO of Chevron Mining, in an interview outside the mine's mill site Monday.

Partridge said the Questa mine is nearly 100 year old, meaning the highest quality, easy get to ore was extracted long ago. Recently, the only mining happening in Questa was underground, which is expensive — both in terms of getting miners to the ore and getting it out to be processed.

In the face of stagnant market prices and increasing competition from other mines across the world, the Questa mine has become virtually obsolete, according to mine officials. Partridge said the final decision to shutdown was made at the end of April, when officials quietly began plans to announce the closure.

"We're not in a position to be a cost effective producer anymore," Partridge said. "In fact, we're the highest cost producer in the world in terms of the global market."

Difficult mining conditions aren't the only challenge the Questa mine has faced. In 2011, the mine and its nearby tailings facility were declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency. A year earlier, the agency proposed a massive cleanup plan to reduce mine-related water contamination. The cleanup is expected to cost about $800 million.

Partridge said Monday the EPA-mandated cleanup will continue, including the decommissioning of nine miles of tailings pipes and the tailings facility west of Questa. Partridge said the cleanup cost was not a factor in the decision to close the mine.

"The mine stands on its own as far as an economic decision," Partridge said.

Questeños working at the mine are accustomed to the boom-and-bust life cycle of the mining industry.

In 2009, Chevron Mining laid off 227 workers after the market price of molybdenum plummeted. The mine has since curtailed ore extraction and has done limited milling while hoping the price would rebound.

But it hasn't, and Partridge said there were not indications that it would bounce back in the foreseeable future.

He said this bust would be the last for Questa.

"We've told [the employees] this is final closure of the mine and we're going into full reclamation of the mine," Partridge said. "We don't believe we'll reopen again."

However, closure of the mine and the ongoing reclamation work could be the silver lining for some workers who got a pink slip Monday.

Partridge said miner closure, including the demolition of mine structures, would likely take one to two years. The full mine reclamation will likely take decades.

All told, Partridge said there would be about 100 jobs available to Questeños doing that kind of work. The company will hold job fairs in Questa in the coming weeks to help laid off workers find a new position, either locally or at mines elsewhere.

Questa mayor Mark Gallegos told The Taos News the mine's closure was obviously going to be hard on families and businesses in the community, but he said the cloud of a possible shutdown always hangs over the village. "It's a tough pill to swallow, but at the same time, with the ups and downs Questa has had to go through before, it's just made our skin a little thicker," Gallegos said.

Ups and downs

The number of workers employed at Questa's molybdenum mine has risen and fallen drastically over the last three decades, as this data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows.


Gallegos said he hoped the permanent closure would be an opportunity for Questa to reinvent itself and diversify. Chevron has offered its help in doing so.

In 2008, Chevron created an economic development fund to help the village prepare for a "post-mining economy." The company initially pledged more than $2.5 million to the fund, and Chevron says it will extend those payments to include another $2.5 million over the next eight years.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Local News
KEYWORDS: economy; layoffs; mining; newmexico

1 posted on 06/02/2014 11:20:43 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet


how many US sources are left?

2 posted on 06/02/2014 11:34:47 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

Zero, if the White House has any say in it. Just like rare Earth minerals, coal, space flight, normal families, alliances with other countries, jobs, etc., etc...

3 posted on 06/02/2014 11:37:50 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (I will raise $2Million USD for Cruz and/or Palin's next run, what will you do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
The cleanup is expected to cost about $800 million.

I wonder where that $800 million actually goes.

4 posted on 06/02/2014 11:58:41 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Moonman62

unions, well-connected companies

5 posted on 06/02/2014 11:59:17 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: CedarDave; LegendHasIt; leapfrog0202; Santa Fe_Conservative; DesertDreamer; OneWingedShark; ...

NM ping

6 posted on 06/03/2014 12:24:04 AM PDT by leapfrog0202 ("the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery" Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

The first rants against the moly mines I ever saw was around 1971 in I believe a FIELD AND STREAM magazine.

Maybe Questa can become an artsy village offshoot of Taos.

7 posted on 06/03/2014 6:31:01 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need more than seven rounds, Much more.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

It’s a bit of a stretch of nothing between the two, but it could still happen. The ski resort of Red River is right up the mountain from Questa, so that could play into your suggestion.

8 posted on 06/03/2014 9:50:53 AM PDT by HiJinx (Bunkerville - where the government made the Government. back down.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

Well, at least the Climax Mine in Colorado has re-opened (no telling for how long.)

And even though it is a tiny percentage, some of the big copper mines produce overall a significant amount of Moly.

Of course after 0bama kills off the last of the coal mining, he will shut down the copper mines...

Oh well, we didn’t need good steel anyway. :-(

9 posted on 06/03/2014 10:38:55 AM PDT by LegendHasIt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson