Phelps Dodge

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Phelps Dodge Corporation
Former type Public
Traded as NYSE: PD
Industry Mining
Fate Friendly takeover
Successor(s) Freeport-McMoRan
Founded 1834
Defunct 2007
Headquarters Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Key people J. Steven Whisler, Chairman & CEO
Products Copper
Employees 15,000 (2006)
Phelps Dodge Tower in downtown Phoenix.

Phelps Dodge Corporation was an American mining company founded in 1834 by Anson Greene Phelps and his two sons-in-law William Earle Dodge, Sr. and Daniel James who ran the Liverpool (England) based side of the organisation - Phelp, James & Co. On March 19, 2007, it was acquired by Freeport-McMoRan and now operates under the name Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.


Initially, Phelps Dodge operated an import-export trade business that shipped U.S.-grown cotton to England in exchange for tin, iron, copper and other metals essential for growth and development of the new American nation.[1]

As time went on, the company began its own mining operations as the western United States frontier expanded, and its mineral wealth, especially copper, started being discovered. The company focused largely on providing copper wire and cables to industry that became in high demand as the Industrial Revolution took hold. As the company diversified, it began investing in new railroads, essential in the company’s efforts to establish itself in the west, especially copper-rich Arizona, and to transport products to and from its markets on the eastern/northeastern shores. During the late 19th century, in concert with its metal interests, Phelps Dodge Corporation became one of the largest producers of lumber and lumber products in the United States. In Tombstone, Arizona during 1900 E. B. Gage, Frank Murphy, and William Staunton consolidated their various mining properties into a single entity, the Tombstone Consolidated Mines Company. They restarted efforts to drain mines that had filled with water, laid a rail spur into town, and re-commenced mining. They experienced some success until the pumps failed in 1909. The new company filed for bankruptcy and the Phelps-Dodge Corporation acquired its claims.[2]

The company became notorious for its anti-union tactics, primarily for the 1917 Bisbee Deportation, where the company kidnapped nearly 1,300 striking miners, depicting the Wobblie miners as bent on war-related sabotage, at gunpoint in Bisbee, Arizona and seized telegraph and telephone lines to keep news of this from getting out.[3][4]

In South America, the company had several very large copper mining operations in Peru. In the Congo, Phelps Dodge Corporation was the majority owner and operator of the Tenke Fungurume project, generally considered to be the world's largest undeveloped copper/cobalt project.[citation needed]

A subsidiary of Phelps Dodge Corporation, Climax Molybdenum, is the largest primary producer of molybdenum in the world. At the Henderson mine west of Empire, Colorado, Climax Molybdenum has produced more than 160 million tons of ore and 770 million pounds of molybdenum since the mine opened in 1976. Climax Molybdenum also owns the inactive Climax molybdenum mine, north of Leadville, Colorado.

The historic Phelps Dodge General Office Building in Bisbee, Arizona was declared a National Historic Landmark of the U.S. in 1983.

The Phelps Dodge copper mine at Morenci, Arizona was the site of a violent strike from 1983 to 1986, culminating in one of the largest union decertifications in American labor history.[5]

The company employed more than 13,500 people worldwide.

Expansion and acquisition[edit]

On Sunday, November 19, 2006, Freeport-McMoRan announced that it planned to acquire Phelps Dodge for $25.9 billion in cash and stock to create the world's largest publicly traded copper mining company. Stockholders for both companies voted on the proposal March 14, 2007. On Monday, March 19, 2007, Phelps Dodge Corporation was acquired by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX), creating the world's largest publicly traded copper company, with 25,000 employees at acquisition.

At the time of its acquisition in 2007, Phelps Dodge Corporation had large copper mining operations in Bagdad, Arizona, Morenci, Arizona, Sahuarita, Arizona, Miami, Arizona, and Tyrone, New Mexico, and the El Chino Mine in New Mexico. Several of these locations provide ores rich in molybdenum as well. It had recently begun development of the Safford Mine near Safford, Arizona. In 2006, revenue was $11.910 billion USD, operating income was $4.226 billion, and net income was $3.017 billion.

Environmental record[edit]

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have identified Phelps Dodge as the 23rd-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, with roughly 3.64 million pounds of toxins released annually into the air. Major pollutants included sulfuric acid, chromium compounds, lead compounds, and chlorine.[6][7] The Center for Public Integrity has reported that Phelps Dodge is named as a potentially responsible party in at least 13 Superfund toxic waste sites.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ *Whitten, David O.; Whitten, Bessie Emrick; and Sisaye, Seleshi. The Birth of Big Business in the United States, 1860-1914: Commercial, Extractive, and Industrial Enterprise. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 0-313-32395-X
  2. ^ Bailey, Lynn R. (2004). Tombstone, Arizona, Too Tough To Die The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Silver Camp; 1878-1990. Tucson, Arizona: Westernlore Press. ISBN 978-0-87026-115-2. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Byrkit, James. "The Bisbee Deportation." In American Labor in the Southwest. James C. Foster, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1982. ISBN 0-8165-0741-4
  4. ^ Goldfield, David. "Supressing Dissent." In The American Journey. David Goldfield, ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc, 2011. ISBN 0-205-24591-9
  5. ^ Rosenblum, Jonathan D. Copper Crucible: How the Arizona Miners' Strike of 1983 Recast Labor-Management Relations in America. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 1995.
  6. ^ Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 retrieved 14 Aug 2007
  7. ^ Toxics Release Inventory data at[dead link]
  8. ^ Center for Public Integrity[dead link]


  • Cleland, Robert Glass. A History of Phelps Dodge, 1834-1950. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952.

External links[edit]