Dropping copper prices temporarily shuttered a mine in Troy this week, but don’t expect to see anything similar from Montana Resources in Butte.
“We don’t have any plans to change our operations,” Montana Resources vice president of human resources Tad Dale told The Montana Standard on Wednesday. “It’s more or less business as usual at the mine.”
An estimated 350 people work at Montana Resources, based on figures released last fall.
Copper prices saw their steepest drop since 2011 last week. Prices were about $4.50 a pound in 2011; copper crept up to about 2 cents to $2.61 a pound Wednesday.
Montana Resources has already tightened its budgetary belt.
“We knew copper prices were on a downward trend,” Dale said. “We have no effect on commodity prices. What we can control is our efficiency and costs.”
Open pit mining is generally cheaper than underground mining, the type of operation used at the Troy Mine.
Part of what helps Montana Resources weather price dips is that it also mines molybdenum. How much of each mineral the mine extracts depends on how much it runs into in the section of ore being mined.
“Copper and molybdenum together have made it possible for us to be one of the lowest-cost producers,” Dale said. “The two of them together make it possible for us to operate the mine at low metal prices.”