Asarco asks for 8th extension to file bankruptcy plan
TUCSON, AZ -- Asarco LLC, a Tucson-based copper producer, recently requested an eighth extension to its exclusive right to file a reorganization plan. Included in the filing is a request to prohibit anyone else from filing a competing plan until Feb. 11, 2008.

Asarco originally filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 in August 2005 in an effort to deal with asbestos claims. In a Sept. 28 court filing Asarco asked permission to settle claims resulting from removing lead and arsenic from backyards in El Paso, Texas.

While Asarco owed the federal government almost $20 million for cleanup costs in El Paso, the settlement calls for giving the government an approved unsecured claim of $13.3 million. Texas environmental regulators are to have a $419,000 approved claim, if the bankruptcy court approves.

In papers filed recently in Corpus Christi, Texas, Asarco stated that third parties interested in sponsoring a reorganization plan will be looking at financial information and inspecting the mines and other facilities this month. The company added that no one could bring the company out of bankruptcy before completion of the process of estimating environmental claims. Nine trials are scheduled throughout October and November.

Asarco has more than 1,800 Arizona employees and operates the Mission mine near Sahuarita, the Silver Bell mine west of Marana, the Ray mine near Kearny and the Hayden smelter 30 miles north of Oracle.