Silver King Mines Inc. and Pacific Silver Corp., both based in Salt Lake City, plan to place their Ward Mountain zinc-copper mine into production this year.

The companies have acquired a long-term lease from NERCO Minerals Co. and NERCO Exploration Co. on the Taylor Mine concentrator 12 miles from the Ward properties in Eastern Nevada."This lease should enable us to begin processing Ward Mountain ores by this fall, which is less than half the time and at a substantial reduction in cost when compared with the costs of building our own mill," said Stuart Havenstrite, chief operations officer of Silver King Mines Inc.

The Taylor mill, a silver concentrator, was shut down in December 1984 because of depressed silver prices. Silver King and Pacific Silver will convert it to base metal production by installing flotation cells and a concentrate filtering system.

In addition to zinc, the mill will concentrate copper and lead from the Ward ore, with silver as a by-product. The mine and mill together are expected to employ more than 100 workers.

In addition to the mill, the lease includes 3,000 acres of silver and gold properties at the Taylor site. These will have value if silver prices strengthen, he said.

When in full production, the Ward should be one of the largest zinc mines in the 48 states, Havenstrite said.