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Possibility Shafter silver mine may reopen

June 8th, 2017 under Top Stories

By NICK WINCHESTER

nick@bigbendnow.com

SHAFTER — The Canadian company responsible for the silver mine at Shafter say they will commence an exploration drilling program and potentially restart the silver mining and production at the Shafter Project, three-and-a-half years after it was shuttered and the company laid off 152 employees.

Vancouver-based Aurcana Corporation made the announcement in a statement released June 1, which detailed the Shafter Project’s next steps, anticipating moves forward to be made “at the earliest possible date.”

Following a “preliminary economic assessment” (PEA), carried out last year, which provided Aurcana with an idea of the costs associated with resuming mining in Shafter, the statement outlined how the company intends to “[assess] in greater detail, the costs of potentially restarting the Shafter Project, including the costs associated with reopening the underground mine and the extent of the definition drill program needed to confirm available mineralization for immediate mining when and if a production decision is made.”

Much of the infrastructure, processing facility and refinery is already in place, as is the needed permits and potential labor pool, the company said.

Brad Newton, Executive Director of the Presidio Municipal Development District, told the Presidio International and Marfa Big Bend Sentinel, “I suspect an improved process in extracting the silver out of the ore, may yield better results than before. I wish them success in reopening the mine as job creation in Presidio is very important.”

Shafter saw mining activity from 1881 through 1942, with further exploration and development work conducted through 1977 through 1982, when the Shafter Deposit was discovered. In the ensuing years, a series of different owners bought and sold the mine. Now considered a ghost town, Shafter was once a thriving mining town with a population high of approximately 4,000 in 1940. Between 1883 and its closure in 1942 due to declining silver prices and the War Act, Shafter produced 35.2 million ounces of silver. Over 70 years later, the high silver prices of 2011 drew interest from Aurcana Corp.

Aurcana Corp. commenced the mine’s recent history in 2011. Underground and limited open-pit production was in operation between 2012 and December 2013.”

When the mine reopened for business in 2011, Aurcana was the largest employer in the county with over 150 employees, and was the biggest taxpayer in Presidio County.

However, in January 2014, amid a 38 percent fall in silver prices, Aurcana laid off more than 150 mine employees and put the mine in “care and maintenance” condition, the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel/ Presidio International reported at the time.

As well as the loss of employment, the county lost millions in projected tax revenues from the Shafter closure. In the summer of 2014, following lengthy litigation, the Presidio County Appraisal District (PCAD) agreed to reduce the tax appraisal value of the Shafter mine.

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