Copper and uranium mineralization in east-central New Mexico
Virginia T. McLemore and Robert M. North
Copper and uranium mineralization commonly occurs within clastic red-bed sedimentary rocks throughout New Mexico and the western United States without any obvious association of magmatic or volcanic activity (Phillips, 1960; Fischer and Stewart, 1961; Finch, 1967). In east-central New Mexico, copper and uranium mineralization occurs in Pennsylvanian, Permian, Triassic and Jurassic rocks (Fig. 1, Table 1). These deposits have common geologic characteristics, although local variations in composition and lithologic features occur. Some deposits contain only copper or uranium, whereas a few deposits contain both. The geology, geochemistry and mineralogy of these deposits are briefly described in this paper to aid in evaluating the economic potential of copper and uranium in east-central New Mexico.
Production from east-central New Mexico has amounted to over $2.7 million worth of copper, silver, lead, uranium, vanadium and gold (Tables 2, 3). Most of this production has come from one deposit, the Stauber (or Guadalupe) mine in the Pastura district (#34, Fig. 1), where more than 13 million lbs (5.9 million kg) of copper, 42,000 oz (1.2 million g) of silver, 58,000 lbs (26,000 kg) of lead and 2 oz (57 g) of gold were produced intermittently from 1915 to 1957 (Table 4; Soule, 1956). Only one other stratabound sedimentary (red-bed or sandstone) copper deposit in New Mexico, the Nacimiento in Sandoval County, has produced more copper and silver than the Stauber mine. Additional production was reported from the Pintada mine, also in the Pastura district, in 1916, 1917, 1951 and 1967-1970. However, the total production is withheld by the U.S. Bureau of Mines (Table 4). Sandusky and Kaufman (1972) reported that more than 41,600 lbs (18,900 kg) of copper concentrate were shipped to El Paso during 1967-1970. Copper, silver, lead and gold also were produced from the Coyote Creek and Tecolote districts (#'s 3, 9, 10, Fig. 1), but total production was insignificant (Table 2). Some uranium and vanadium were produced from six mines in east-central New Mexico, but total production was small (Table 3).
- McLemore, Virginia T.; North, Robert M., 1985, Copper and uranium mineralization in east-central New Mexico, in: Santa Rosa-Tucumcari region, Lucas S. G.; Zidek, J., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 36th Field Conference, pp. 289-299.