Freeport-McMoRan operates seven open-pit copper mines in North America: Morenci, Bagdad, Safford, Sierrita and Miami in Arizona, and Chino and Tyrone in New Mexico. The company has significant undeveloped reserves and resources in North America and a portfolio of potential long-term development projects.
Through exploration drilling, the company has identified a significant resource at its Lone Star project located near the Safford operation in eastern Arizona. An initial project to develop the Lone Star leachable ores commenced in first-quarter 2018, with first production expected by the end of 2020. Initial production from the Lone Star leachable ores is expected to average approximately 200 million pounds per year (lb/y) of copper, with the potential for future expansion options.
Total capital costs for the initial project, including mine equipment and preproduction stripping, are expected to approximate $850 million and will benefit from the utilization of existing infrastructure at the adjacent Safford operation. At the end of the first quarter, the company reported an investment of approximately $385 million for this project. The project also advances exposure to a significant sulfide resource. Freeport said it expects to incorporate recent positive drilling and ongoing results in its future development plans.