Reopening of Climax welcome, not heralded
LEADVILLE, Colorado – Boom and bust is no longer on the agenda of this scrappy mountain town – no matter what happens up the hill at the Climax mine.Along historic Harrison Avenue, merchants and community leaders express collective nonchalance about the prospects of the huge molybdenum mine reopening as soon as next year.Sure, it’ll be nice to have 400 jobs at Climax. Yes, it will help shore up some of the weak underpinnings of Leadville’s fragile economy.But in no way is the molybdenum mine expected to become the super-dominant force that it was decades ago.”If people get it in their minds that here comes Climax on its white horse to save the day, well, that’s not going to happen,” said Keith Moffett, community bank president of Peoples National Bank in Leadville.Moffett and other city leaders envision a more sustainable economy based on tourism, recreation and an expected influx of students and faculty from Colorado Mountain College’s recent addition of bachelor’s degree programs.Until those industries grow, townspeople are resisting the urge to declare a pending boom in mining, even as motels and restaurants fill with hundreds of construction workers hired to get the mine ready.Climax’s owner, Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, is spending $700 million to re-equip the mine, which first opened in 1918, and get it prepared to resume production after being largely mothballed since the 1980s.
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