Mohave County approves new valuation for Mineral Park

KINGMAN - After meeting in executive session, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposed settlement with bankrupt Mineral Park mine over a property tax valuation appeal.

The proposed settlement reduces the mine's full cash value for tax year 2015 from $114.6 million to $50 million, resulting in a tax savings of about $1.34 million for Mineral Park, based on 2014 tax rates.

The settlement involves personal property, mineral reserves and real property of the open-pit copper mine located about 20 miles northwest of Kingman.

Supervisors voted in August to accept a settlement of nearly $4.5 million on back taxes owed by Mineral Park totaling more than $15 million. The money will be allocated between various taxing districts in Mohave County.

Mineral Park, a subsidiary of Mercator Minerals, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in August and laid off 380 workers in December as it shut down operations. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Delaware approved the sale of the mine for $10 million in January to Origin Mining Co.

The mine was once valued at more than $480 million, and posted revenue of $222.3 million in 2013. It can produce up to 50,000 tons of ore a day and had an estimated 20-year life as of 2013.

The mine's full cash value was set at $147 million for 2015. The board heard an appeal from Mineral Park in November and reduced the mine's value to $114.6 million. Mineral Park then appealed that value in the Arizona Tax Court.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

• Voted 5-0 to accept Office of Management and Budget's final report on options for the transfer of public lands. The report defines and maps roughly 7.4 million acres of public lands in Mohave County, breaks down potential revenue from primary and secondary taxes on the land, and documents the findings.

• Voted 5-0 to continue discussion at its Sept. 21 meeting of going to a zero-based budget for fiscal 2017. Zero-based budgeting is generally defined as a method of preparing cash flow, budgets and operating plans that start from scratch every year with no pre-authorized funds. The item had previously been continued from the Aug. 17 meeting.

• Adopted resolutions supporting bills by both Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. John McCain to ensure justice for Downwinders exposed to government radiation testing.