- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Revett Mining Co. says it is closing a copper and silver mine in northwestern Montana due to low metals prices and is laying off about 70 employees.

The Spokane Valley, Washington-based company announced Monday that it would end development work, continue milling operations through the end of January and then place the mine on “care and maintenance” mode.

Revett CEO John Shanahan said the orderly shutdown would ensure the mine could be reopened should copper and silver prices increase.

About 80 people work at the mine, the Flathead Beacon reported (http://bit.ly/1CeXCsJ ). Only a half dozen will be needed to maintain the site, Shanahan said.

The mine closed in late 2012 due to underground rockslides. Crews developed different sites and the mine re-opened in mid-November. Since then, it has produced just over 27,000 ounces of silver and 159,000 pounds of copper.

“Although this is a difficult decision, it is important to note that redevelopment efforts at Troy have been successful,” Shanahan said. “Unfortunately, at current metal prices, commercial operations are not sustainable in the near term.”

The price of copper has fallen from about $4.50 a pound in 2011 to $2.60 a pound this week. Shanahan said the mine is viable with copper selling at $3 a pound.

Revett’s stock price dropped from 38.5 percent to close at 43 cents a share Tuesday on the American Stock Exchange.

“Placing the Troy Mine on care and maintenance will conserve cash while we focus on Rock Creek permitting and preserve Troy as a viable deposit for future development,” Shanahan said in a statement.

The Rock Creek Project, south of the Troy Mine in Sanders County, also has silver and copper deposits, the company said. It is located in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness area and needs state and federal permits to develop.

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Information from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com

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