The rise and fall of mining in the Patagonia Mountains – by Clara Migoya (El Inde – May 9, 2020)

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In a lot on Harshaw Avenue, off-road trucks line up in neat rows. The small town of Patagonia is seeing new activity in the nearby mountains now that South32, an Australian mining company, is running round-the-clock mineral drilling operations at the Hermosa-Taylor mine.

“The Taylor deposit, just by scale, is probably the largest undeveloped zinc deposit in the world,” said Pat Risner, president of the Hermosa project. “It’s a very strategic resource for this country.”

The Hermosa operation started more than a decade ago, when it was owned by Arizona Mining Inc., which did initial explorations and pre-feasibility studies. In 2018, South32 bought the company and all its mining claims for $1.3 billion.

Mining is not new to the region. In the Santa Rita mountains, a silver-mine region, Native Americans and Spaniards explored some of the rich mineral deposits centuries ago.

Then, in the early 19th century, prospectors and small mining companies poured into the southern border. The Patagonia Mountains received their fair share of prospectors. By 1915, the mining district of Harshaw alone, where South32 now operates, had 40 mines.

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