WILLCOX — The first of three major permits for the Gunnison Copper Project outside of Willcox has been issued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Excelsior Mining Corporation, owners of the project, announced that it has received an amended Aquifer Protection Permit for Johnson Camp Mine, the property north of Interstate 10 where copper processing facilities are located.
Excelsior is utilizing in situ mining to inject a weak acid solution into bedrock about 600 feet below the surface on its 9,560 acre property located east of Benson, on both the north and south sides of I-10.
The acid is recovered and equipment at the Johnson Camp Mine extracts copper from the solution. The camp got its start in the early 1880s, shortly after the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in the area. At its peak, the town of Johnson near the site of the open pit mine had two 30-ton smelters and was the headquarters in 1883 of the Peabody Co., which employed 150 men. The camp was named after George J. Johnson, who served as the general manager of the Cochise Copper Company.
Excelsior purchased the property in 2015 and together with other holdings in the immediate area of the Johnson Camp Mine, has invested about $52 million in the Gunnison Copper Project. The operation is expected to produce about 2.2 billion of copper oxide and generate about $2.4 billion in statewide economic impact for the next 20 years.
Excelsior is currently working with the ADEQ on issuing another, separate Aquifer Protection Permit for the wellfield component of the…
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