(Reuters) – Nevada Copper Corp said on Monday it has started production at its Pumpkin Hollow mine in the western United States, one of the first new mining projects to open in the country in decades.
The mine is opening just as copper prices are projected to rise due to increasing demand from the electric vehicle industry. Once seen as a laggard in the global mining industry, U.S. copper deposits have drawn nearly $3 billion in recent investments from small and large miners alike.
Nevada Copper spent about $200 million to develop the underground mine, less than 60 miles (100 km) from Tesla’s massive Gigafactory in the state’s northern edge. The mine is expected to produce about 27,000 tonnes of copper concentrate annually.
The mine’s operating cost of $1.86 per pound is about 49 percent below current copper prices. The underground mine is expected to operate for about 13.5 years. Nevada Copper plans to finish a feasibility study by the end of next year on whether to construct a nearby open-pit mine.
The company controls about 22,000 acres in northern Nevada and says it believes it has expansion potential.