East Knox County residents are cautiously optimistic that rising zinc prices may mean the reopening of mining operations that normally employ over 300 area workers. The mines closed when zinc prices dropped below 60 cents a pound, making local operations unprofitable.
But zinc prices are now around 82 cents a pound, meaning operations locally would be back in the black. But the prices are rising because of production cutbacks around the world and the recession has created uncertainty in the commodities market. Because of the costs involved in reopening a mining operation, there is usually some lag before production resumes.
Production stopped in February and some 70 workers were retained to provide maintenance and keep operations ready to go when production resumes. Glencore, a Swiss conglomerate, owns the three interconnected mines between Mascot and New Market.