It happens to sit right here just west of Salt Lake City in among the hillsides known as Bingham Canyon and has been a mining site since 1863. By 1906 with the advent of steam shovels, the pit really took shape under ownership of the Utah Copper Company. During its long history, this mine has produced more copper ore (18.1 million tons) than any other in the world. It is now owned by Kennecott, a subsidiary company of the giant global mining titan, Rio Tinto. Today we took a quick visit where we were able to view dioramas and exhibits and watch a video on its history and development after gazing over the edge into its abyss.
Some fast facts:
*Taken out annually: 300,000 tons of copper, 500,000 ounces of gold, 4 million ounces of silver, 30 million pounds of molybdenum, 1 million tons of sulfuric acid
*The mine is 2.5 miles across and ¾ of a mile deep and by 2015 will be another 500 feet deeper than now
*It contains 500 miles of roadway
*In order to produce the copper, 55,000,000 tons of ore must be processed. For every ton of ore removed, another two ton of overburden must be removed to gain access to the ore
*The mine uses 11 giant electric shovels, with the newest costing $20 million and weighing 3.2 million pounds
*70 gigantic haulage trucks carry up to 320 tons per trip and each one of them costs $3.5 million. The fleet travels 10,000 miles per day at an average speed of 13 mpg. Water trucks spread up to a million gallons of water daily on the roads to mitigate dust and keep the roadbeds solid.
It was really quite impressive to see; a sight not to be missed if you are in the area.