Vancouver company buys Anaconda mine in Yerington |

Vancouver company buys Anaconda mine in Yerington

Rob Sabo

The vast Anaconda copper mine northwest of Yerington has a new owner.

Quaterra Resources Inc. of Vancouver said last week that its wholly owned subsidiary, Singatse Peak Services, purchased the assets of Armetico, Inc., which includes 4.2 miles of mining claims, including the Anaconda pit. More than 1.7 billion pounds of copper has been extracted from the pit, and historical resource estimates suggest that more than four billion pounds of copper remain to be mined from the area.

Thomas Patton, president and chief executive of Quaterra, says the company’s first order of business will be to conduct studies to convert and expand historic resource estimates into proven resources.

“The acquisition by SPS of historic copper resources and valuable water rights in a mining -friendly state with excellent infrastructure presents an opportunity to fast-track the project,” Patton says.

Quaterra paid $500,000 cash plus 250,000 shares of its common stock and a 2 percent royalty on smelted copper with a cap at $7.5 million dollars to purchase the property.

Singatse Peak Services plans an extensive two-year exploration program to validate historic drilling data. The program includes core and reverse circulation drilling, geophysical surveys, and preliminary metallurgical studies to evaluate the historic copper mineralization at the mine site, as well as to investigate surrounding areas for new copper deposits.

The area listed as a superfund site with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a long, storied history.

Anaconda purchased the mine in Mason Valley in 1941 and mined copper until selling the mine to Atlantic Richfield Company 1977. ARCO mined copper at the pit until shuttering operations in 1982. When ARCO ceasing mining operations, groundwater pumping at the open pit also ceased, and over time the pit filled with water. Armetico purchased the mine in 1988 but went bankrupt in 1997. The Arizona-based company abandoned the site in 2000.

The 180-acre Pit Lake is about one mile long, 800 feet deep, and is about two-thirds full. It contains about 40,000 acre-feet of water, or more than 13 billion gallons, and fills at a rate of about 10 feet per year.

To put that amount of water in perspective, when the snowmelt-swollen Truckee River flows at 2,250 cubic feet per second, as it has for several weeks, nearly a million gallons of water a minute rush under the Virginia Street bridge. At that rate, it still would take more than nine full days and nights for 13 billion gallons of water to pass through town.

Atlantic Richfield on April 27 reached a settlement with the EPA to provide nearly $1 million for cleanup costs at the site. To date, the EPA has collected nearly $6 million for environmental contamination at the Anaconda mine.

Quaterra says part of its legal due diligence included completing agreements with the EPA, Nevada state agencies and the Atlantic Richfield Company to define, limit and protect Quaterra from existing liabilities on the property and allow access to explore.


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