George Lotspeich may be the only New Mexican to make the cover of Inc. magazine. The occasion was July 1981. Lotspeich was CEO of Cobb Resources, a uranium company.
Inc's annual list of the fastest growing small pubic companies then tallied the top 100. Cobb Resources was number one with 366,567 percent five-year growthfrom $2,993 in 1976 to $11 million in 1980. Though interesting 32 years later, the Inc. list and Lotspeich's cover appearance are not the concern here.
Lotspeich has always been in involved in various thingsgold and manganese starting in the 1950s, oil, copper, uranium. The Copper Flat property, along NM 152, west of I-25, may be the most various in that Cobb owned the property three times and sold it to developers. Twice he got it back. He hopes now to be done.
"It's got a better chance now than it has in a long time," said.
That chance comes from Themac Resources Group Limited of Vancouver, B.C. (http://themacresourcesgroup.com), and Themac's subsidiary, New Mexico Copper Corp. of Albuquerque.
A Clovis native, Lotspeich graduated from Albuquerque High, served in World War II, and completed his geology degree at the University of New Mexico in 1952. Life as a mining entrepreneur soon began. Lotspeich leased a gold property bordering Copper Flat that turned out to be unavailable. The owner ran him off. Lotspeich "learned to be a land man in a hurry."
Then came the manganese.
"Going back to the days when I got out of college, going back that far, I went down to southern New Mexico and started a manganese mine down there," Lotspeich said. The plan worked. Lotspeich was making money, a lot for a young man.
"While I was there, I met an old German guy who owned Copper Flat and so after I made a deal with him to buy it, I operated Copper Flat down there. I leached some stuff. Just on a small scale."
Eventually Lotspeich sold Copper Flat to Inspiration Consolidated Copper, which in turn leased it to Quintana Minerals Corp. of Houston, which got into production in 1982 at just the wrong time. Copper prices plunged. Quintana operated briefly, shut down, and ultimately walked away from its huge loan.
The property went back to Inspiration, which got in trouble. At the time of Inspiration's purchase, Lotspeich had said. "You know, you guys ever get rid of this, let me know. I've put a lot of time out there. I thought it was a decent property."
Inspiration asked Lotspeich, "You still interested in Copper Flat? I said, sure. What do you want for it?" Lotspeich paid Inspiration what he had received, "a bunch of money at the time; it was a couple of hundred thousand." Ten days later, the price of copper climbed. "Pure lucky on that end of it."
The next major development effort came in the 1990s from Alta Gold Co. Again financial unpleasantnessAlta's bankruptcyintruded, putting Copper Flat back with Lotspeich.
Today, Themac says, "THEMAC Resources Group acquired 100 percent of the Copper Flat Project in May 2011, and is in the process of returning the project, an open pit, porphyry copper-molybdenum-gold-silver mine, to production in Sierra County, New Mexico. Various state and federal permits are required prior to re-opening the mine, THEMAC is planning on having all required permits by mid-2014, after which construction will begin. The Copper Flat project will create approximately 400-500 construction jobs as well as an estimated 275 direct full time jobs".
After 60 years in mining, Lotspeich has a new project, a uranium property near Grants. Most amazing for today is that the industry is saying positive public things via newspaper ads and a website (nmcopperrules.com) about proposed new rules for copper mining.
Harold Morgan has tracked the New Mexico economy for decades. He was editor for 20 years and publisher for four years of Progress, a business newsletter and was the founding editor of the New Mexico Business Journal.