BUTTE – Tumbling rocks and ore are the sound of money in Butte as Montana Resources rings in the new year with high copper prices.

“It’s a good way to start the year, you know, we hope it stays in that range because it will be very successful, a very good year,” said Mike McGivern of Montana Resources.

Copper and molybdenum, which are mined out of Montana Resources in Butte, have reached a four-year high of $3.23 a pound for copper and $10.70 a pound of moly as of Wednesday.

“We make about 70 million pounds of copper every year and we make about 9 million pounds of moly every year, but they both help pay the bills for sure,” McGivern said.

Story continues below

In the past, copper has fallen below $2 and Moly sunk to just $4 a pound. But Montana Resources has little control over the prices.

“We want to control our safety and we want to control our costs and if we do both those things and we see these good prices, we’re able to reap the benefits of these prices and when we have tough times we can weather the storm,” McGivern said.

Officials here at Montana Resources say there are many factors for why the copper prices are going up, this includes a strong national economy and world economy, but the main factor is strong demand for copper in out of China.

“You know, there are a billion people over there and their economy’s growing and they want cell phones, electric power, water, they’re skyscrapers are growing at a rapid pace, so they are a big factor in the world,” McGivern said.

Even if these prices hold, Montana Resources officials don’t expect to hire new employees at this company, which already employs about 357 staff, but it will make for a strong, profitable new year.

-John Emeigh reporting for MTN