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Historic Bisbee mine faces possible closure, residents blast move

Cory Marshall

Historic Bisbee mine faces possible closure, residents blast move

By Cory Marshall. CREATED Aug 13, 2013

BISBEE, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Bisbee's historic Queen Mine may be nearing it's last tour. 

Friday, Freeport-McMoRan, the mining company that owns the property, notified Bisbee city officials that they will be terminating their operational lease, citing safety concerns.

Specifically, company representatives say they are concerned with the "fluctuating presence of radon." They say visitors touring the mine are not affected, but employees "could be at risk."

"I was shocked because we had not been told, to my knowledge, that we had had those high levels of radon any other time," Bisbee Mayor Adriana Badal told 9OYS.

"It's like losing a family member. This has been part of this community for at least 30 years," Mayor Badal continued.

Last year, city officials say 43,000 people toured the Queen Mine, bringing in over $550,000 in revenue.

"I think it would be damaging to Bisbee because I think it's a real draw," Mesa resident Bill Gosnell said, before touring the mine for the first time.

"It's such a great thing; I know our friends [and] our family enjoyed it," another tourist added.

Bisbee city officials say the closure is not a done deal. They are currently in talks and looking into mine mitigation options like, additional venting.

Monday, Mayor Badal issued a letter to Freeport-McMoRan, asking the company to "take no precipitous action in regards to the Queen Mine that might jeopardize the irreplaceable resource."

Badal says further radon testing is needed.

"Bisbee is still here. We're not going away," she added.