Bisbee mine tour to end under lease termination

2013-08-12T00:00:00Z Bisbee mine tour to end under lease terminationVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold will terminate its operational lease for the Queen Mine Tour, a popular Bisbee tourist attraction.

A representative from the mining company told city officials Friday that there are various safety issues that contributed to the decision to end the lease, including radon gas, but provided few details about the company's concerns, according to a news release from the city of Bisbee.

The company plans to issue a 60-day notice of lease termination later this week, the release said.

The city contends the closure will harm Bisbee's tourism revenue.

In the last five years, the tours generated about $438,000 a year in tour revenue and $130,000 from merchandise sales, the release said.

Last year, there were 43,442 paid admissions for the tour in which tourists don miner's headlamps and yellow slickers and head 1,500 feet underground to explore part of the Queen Mine and learn about mining history and techniques from former mine workers.

The Queen Mine was closed as a working mine by Phelps Dodge Corporation in 1975, but reopened for tours the following year.

Five tours are offered every day of the week at the mine. Admission is $13 for adults, $5.50 for children ages 4 to 12, and free for kids under the age of 4.

The lease termination will also affect the Bisbee Visitor Center, which is at the Queen Mine and helps more than 60,000 visitors each year, the release said.

"This action by Freeport-McMoran is not only detrimental to the City of Bisbee and the quality of life for its citizens but also to Cochise County and all of southeastern Arizona," the release said.

The issue has been referred to the city attorney.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4224.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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