Shafter silver mine gets appraisal break
By RICHARD MARK GLOVER
MARFA – The Presidio County Appraisal District’s Appraisal Review Board reduced the value of Rio Grande Mining Company’s Shafter silver mine mineral reserves from $39 million to $35 million following a protest hearing at the district office Tuesday.
“Does a company need to pay taxes on what hasn’t come out of the ground,” asked Ron Little, a tax appraisal consultant from Houston, representing the mine. “Since the company bought the land in 2008, the mine has produced zero.”
Review board members Alma Martin, Loretto Vasquez and Oscar Cabello heard testimony from both sides of the table, including Little and Charles Price of Capital Appraisal Group, along with Clay Fowler who were contracted by the appraisal district to value the land, buildings, equipment and mineral reserves.
“I take exception with the fact that just because there has been no production, there is reduced value,” said Price. “This is a mine. If it were sold today it would be sold on the value of its mineral reserves, mined or not.”
According to Price, the market value could be as high as $104 million based on an investment prospectus offered on the internet by the Canadian parent company, Aurcana Corporation.
“Basically they said they were spending more money than it was worth,” said Irma Salgado, Chief Appraiser.
Rio Grande didn’t protest its land and capital assets, only its mineral value.
Salgado will soon certify the appraised and taxable values of property in Presidio County and hand the information over to the taxing entities. Rio Grande’s property taxes benefit the Presidio school district, Presidio County, and the Big Bend Regional Hospital District. It is one of the largest taxpayers in the county.
Attending the hearing was Presidio schools Superintendent Dennis McEntire, and appraisal district board members Joanne Smith, who represents the city of Marfa, and Katherine Shaughnessy Michael, who represents Marfa ISD.
During the three-hour protest hearing, Little often mentioned that the company was “not producing.” According to a Shafter miner living in Alpine, an expensive “crusher,” located underground at the mine and used to break up the ore before its conveyed to the surface, recently broke and many miners have been laid off.
Rio Grande Mining Co. officials declined to comment on the matter.
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