CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The relationship between Clear Creek County and the Henderson Mine has had its ups and downs but it appears the mine will remain open for at least the next six years due to shifting market forces.
It was expected to close down in 2020, but mine operators are telling CBS4 they will remain open and begin more production.
For the hundreds of workers at the operation it means a paycheck for at least a few more years and more time to find something else once the mine does close for good.
“We are working really hard on economic development in this county really hard approving quality of life, infrastructure to create work,” Clear Creek County Commissioner Randy Wheelock said.
The Henderson Mine and Mill is currently operating at a rate of approximately 22,000 tons of ore per day, producing molybdenum at an annual rate of approximately 10 million pounds.
There are currently approximately 315 Henderson employees, 215 located at the mine in Empire and 100 at the mill near Kremmling.
In 2016, Henderson suspended further mine development of new mining areas.
The county budget continues to feel the impacts of those downturns, and they are looking to spur new economic developments so when the mine does close they will have a backup.
“This is giving us a few more years, but the mine will close at some point and we need to be ready for that,” Wheelock said.
Due to improvements made in the mine plan, increased productivity by the Henderson employees and a stronger molybdenum market, Henderson officials tell CBS4 they are taking steps to resume mine development activities. As a result, the known mine life of the Henderson mine, at the current production rates, will be extended from 2020 to 2026.
“The biggest benefit to having them here is that they are still here is good neighbors and working with us for a few more years economically it has little impact on our resources,” Wheelock said.
The molybdenum oxide price has increased since the curtailment was implemented in late 2015 to a current price of approximately $8.30 per pound.
The mine development activities will be performed by a mining contractor who has been hired and is expected to begin work in September with a workforce of approximately 35 people.
Additionally, the Henderson Mine currently has approximately 50 open positions required to support the mine development.