Construction on the Safford mine began in mid-2006. Production began December 26, 2007, with full production started in 2008. It is the first new large-scale copper mining project in Arizona in more than 30 years. In September 2005, as part of the deal, Phelps Dodge (which was subsequently purchased by Freeport-McMoran) transferred 3,867 acres (15.65 km2) of "environmentally sensitive" land to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and purchased 16,297 acres (65.95 km2), located next to where the mine is located, from the BLM.
The mine composes two porphyry copper deposits (the San Juan and Dos Pobres copper ore bodies) that have leachable oxide and secondary sulfide mineralization. Freeport-McMoran estimates that it will remove 205 to 240 million pounds of copper from the deposits annually between 2008 and 2011.
The area where the mine is located is at an average elevation of 4,186 feet (1,276 m).
The mine is served by a branch of the Arizona Eastern Railway.
- "Safford Mine Tops 5 Million Pounds of Copper in First Month" - Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)
- "Renzi Pleased to See Safford Land Exchange Completed" - Congressman Rick Renzi (AZ – 1) - U.S. House of Representatives (c/o House.gov) - September 20, 2005
- Stockton, Lindsey. "Officials glad land exchange is complete" - Eastern Arizona Courier - September 28, 2005
- Safford Mine - Freeport-McMoRan