Mercater purchases Mineral Park Mine

An Arizona company has announced the recent purchase of the Mineral Park Mine from Equatorial Mining, an Australian company.

Mercater Minerals president Mike Surratt said the company uses water to leach copper from the old dumps at the Mineral Park Mine.

Surratt said the process, called SX-EW for solvent extraction and electro winning, allows copper extraction from ore at a competitive price.

Surratt said copper is bringing 75 cents per unit now and has been as high as $1.20 and as low as 60 cents this past year.

He said the company is competitive at the current price.

Mercater Minerals has increased employment to 14 with six recent hirings including some former employees of North Star Steel.

Surratt said the company expects to hire three more people soon and expand to 20 workers at wages at the high end of the local pay scale.

Within a year the company plans to reopen some of mining operations and will eventually employee about 35.

All hired to date have been area residents.

"We have good jobs with good benefits," Surratt said.

"Our wages are competitive on the upper end."

Copper production at the operation has been increased from 3 million ton rate to six million per year and will go to 15 million tons in 12 months.

Surratt said the company will move its corporate headquarters to Kingman from Tucson, where Mercater Minerals was founded during the 1980s.

The company has done mostly exploration until acquiring the Mineral Park Mine.

Jim Tompkins is the mine manager.

Surratt said Arizona is still the top producer of copper in the United States and likely in North America.

South America also has a lot of copper production, he said.

Duval closed the Mineral Park Mine about 20 years ago, taking 200 high-paying jobs and creating a lot of financial stress in the Kingman community.

Area leaders then began development at the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park, where 70 companies now employ more than 2,000 people.

During the earlier copper mining era, the area became famous for Kingman turquoise.

The semiprecious stone is often found in conjunction with copper mining.

Mining turquoise is uncommon today because the price has declined.

Surratt said Red Mountain mines decorative rock at Mineral Park for landscaping use as far away as Las Vegas.

Mineral Park, site of the Mohave County seat prior to the move to Kingman, keeps the mining heritage alive with new processing and mining techniques.