DEMING, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico has a long history of copper mining – dating back to the early 1800s. Today state lawmakers discussed a copper mining project in Sierra County that would bring a lot of money and jobs to southern New Mexico. 

But opening a mine for work is a lengthy process. “Any mine that opens in this country has to go through at least a ten-year permitting process,” Patricia Madrid, the Independent Director of NM Copper Corporation, said.

On Wednesday, the Economic Development and Policy Committee talked about the copper mining project that’s been in the works for more than ten years. Jeffrey Smith – the chief operating officer of New Mexico Copper Corporation – says the demand for copper is growing as alternative sources of power are being developed.

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“Copper has been needed all along, but again as we move into solar and wind power and electric vehicles, we’re going to need more and more copper plus many other minerals,” Smith said. 

Republican state senator Crystal Diamond shared her support for the Copper Flat Project. “New Mexico has really ambitious goals when it comes to diversifying our energy section and we know that the key to our electric vehicles is literally copper. Copper is key in meeting these ambitious goals.”

The project is located in Sierra County – 20 miles southwest of Truth or Consequences. An area that has produced minerals since the late 1800s and even mined for copper.

According to Smith there are 600 million pounds of recoverable copper, and the reserve will provide 12 years of operation. He explains, “We’re focused on obtaining water for the operation and completing requirements for a key permit from the Mines and Mineral Division of the Energy Mineral and Natural Resources Department.”

The Copper Flat Project is expected to bring 270 full-time jobs to Sierra County and create 1,300 construction jobs.