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Soaring copper, fuel prices impacting Butte mine

Posted at 8:50 AM, Mar 14, 2022

BUTTE - The copper industry in Butte is booming as copper prices are at an all-time high and officials at Montana Resources expect things may even get better.

“We’re seeing amazing prices like we’ve never seen before. Five dollars is a barrier that has never been broken and we keep hoping this is the year we see it bust $5,” said Mike McGivern of Montana Resources.

Last week, it came close at $4.92 per pound for copper. Currently, copper is hovering at about $4.60 per pound and molybdenum is about $19 per pound. Montana Resources is mining a very rich copper vein.

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“We’re going to see more copper this year than we’ve seen probably in the last 20 years. And we’re hoping, knock on wood, that we can produce close to 90 million pounds of copper for this year,” said McGivern.

“We’re going to see more copper this year than we’ve seen probably in the last 20 years. And we’re hoping, knock on wood, that we can produce close to 90 million pounds of copper for this year,” said McGivern.

However, the mine, like everyone else, is also dealing with high fuel prices. To keep the haul trucks moving, MR uses about 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel a day. The company estimates this will cost them about $1.2 million in fuel this year.

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“We’re the second-largest consumer of electricity in the state of Montana and, right now, the price of diesel is rivaling what we have to pay for electricity to keep the lights on,” said McGivern

It’s no secret that mining is a messy industry, so it’s ironic that the movement toward green energy that’s fueling this demand for more copper.

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“The copper required in green energy is unbelievable. If we’re going to move away from fossil fuels, you’re going to need unbelievable amounts of copper and there’s just not that much, so it’s in high demand,” said McGivern.

“The copper required in green energy is unbelievable. If we’re going to move away from fossil fuels, you’re going to need unbelievable amounts of copper and there’s just not that much, so it’s in high demand,” said McGivern.

This time last year, copper was at $4.10 per pound and moly was at just $12 per pound.