Florence Copper is located in
the historic Copper Corridor of Arizona – a region steeped in copper mining
history. The project offers a unique opportunity to provide strong economic
benefits to the community of Florence and the State of Arizona with minimal
environmental impact. During its lifetime, Florence Copper is estimated to
create close to 500 jobs for Pinal County and generate $3.4 billion in economic
activity for Arizona.
Florence Copper is not a mine in the traditional sense. No massive hole is dug in the ground, no waste piles are created, no smelters are used, no blasting is done – none of the traditional mining activity is used for this project. Florence Copper recovers the mineral using advanced technology called in-situ copper recovery (ISCR) that has an extremely small environmental footprint.
The ISCR process occurs 1,200 feet below ground in a bedrock layer beneath the lower aquifer unit. A solution (similar in pH to common household vinegar) is pumped under low pressure to dissolve the copper within the copper oxide zone. Copper-rich solution is then pumped to the surface through recovery wells for processing into 99.999% pure copper cathode sheets using an electro-chemical process that separates the copper from the solution. The solution is recycled into the deposit and the process repeats.
This is all possible because the copper deposit in Florence is rare. In-situ copper recovery requires unique hydrogeological conditions that happen to be in Florence. Unlike orebodies that are made up of solid rock, this deposit is naturally porous and shattered, allowing the extraction solution to easily flow through it. This means the copper can be extracted without the use of pressure.
Florence Copper operated a successful Production Test Facility (PTF) for over 18 months. The purpose of the PTF was to demonstrate that copper ore can safely be extracted using in-situ copper recovery (ISCR) technology so that the much larger full-scale project could advance forward. The goal has been met.
With the integrity and reliability of in-situ copper recovery now proven, Florence Copper is well on its way to move to commercial production. Once final permits are issued, Florence Copper will invest a another $230 million to build the facilities necessary to support commercial production. This means close to 800 direct and indirect jobs, $2.1 billion in economic activity, $1.98 billion in personal income, and $468 million in taxes and royalties – all for Arizona.