Asarco Open Pit Copper Mine

After leaving the Casa Grande Ruins we headed further East into the mountains towards Asarco’s Ray Mine; one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world.  We travelled on a gravel backcountry road through some spectacular desert terrain.  Along the way we passed the Boulders, a large collection of massive sandstone rocks.  This area is popular with off-road 4×4’s as it is riddled with all terrain roads.  After crossing over two ranges we came upon the mine site and were blown away by the scale of the operation.  When you see the massive  Liebheer mining trucks carrying over 350 tons of ore up out of the pit looking like ants, you begin to appreciate the size of the excavation.  The open pit is over 2,200 feet deep and covers an area of 3.75 sq miles. The mine processed 250.000 tons of ore per day.

Based on the current rate of extraction the mine reserves will be depleted in about 30 years time.  As another reminder of the small world we live in, the only other people viewing the mine where from Ohio and their son had recently moved to Phoenix from good old Hudson.