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 Post subject: The Largest Copper Mine In USA
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:40 am 
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Morenci Open Pit Mine - Located in eastern Arizona about an hour drive northeast of Safford on the scenic Coronado Trail, this site provides a spectacular view of Arizona's largest mining operation - the Phelps Dodge Morenci mine. The Morenci mine, the largest copper mine in the US, produces over 750 million pounds of copper a year and has moved over 1,000,000 tons in a day! The overlook is about 5 miles north of the town of Morenci on Highway 191. You can take a tour of the mining area
http://www.byways.org/browse/byways/2059/places/58743/
http://www.phelpsdodge.com/Community-En ... neTour.htm


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:59 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:33 pm
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Looks very interesting. I wonder about the full history on the mine? Was it always an open pit mine, or was it at one time a deep mine? It would be interesting to check out, however being that it is a huge open pit, all of the older workings are far from gone and already mined out. Perhaps there are some old buildings somewhere to get a tour of, but it might be unlikely.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:01 pm 
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Yeah Greg I'm curious about it to. I know that you can take a tour of this mine but not sure where they take you within the tour. I checked the site and it doesn't tell you. I'm going to do more research on it and then I will post up the additional info.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:55 pm 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
They also tell you to wear appropiate mining atire depending on the weather outside. They may run the tour under ALL conditions, rain or shine. Since the miners work rain or shine, why operate the tour any different? But chances are you would get a better tour going when there are less people there.

Also, just like the strip operation in Wadesville, the Wadesville supply shaft is used to keep the water lever in the pit down low enough to all for mining. Perhaps some of the pumping operations might be tourable for the Morenci Mine.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:51 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:55 pm
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Location: MT,AZ, NV, UT, CO, PA
I work in mining as well as gas and oil in the Rockies from AZ to CO and NV, so I travel a lot and have a great interest in all things old. I went to school in Helena, MT, and my love for days of mining past started in the gold mines around there.
I know the post is old, but the great thing about message boards is that the questions never really die.
To get to your point, the Morenci / Clifton area was all shaft and stope at least 50 mines total, from the 1880's until the advent of technology to process low grade oxide ores and more recently sulfide ores. At the behest of the government, Morenci converted to high volume pit prodution around the beginning of WWII. A few miles north of the concentrator / mill right on the 191 just across from the haul truck assembly / tear down yard is the Mexican cemetery. The most recent grave is from the 30's. South of there on mine property disappearing under leach piles is the Chinese cemetery. The old town of Morenci is on mine property and has the white cemetery and what is left of the town. Phelps Dodge was about as powerful as the government in AZ at one time, and bought out or took everything in the area. The pit has swallowed up the small towns and most of the mines in the district. There are a few not on mine property to the north and east, but that is about it. At the risk of my job, I have spent some time exploring a few of the remaining workings which are on the north and west side of the mine property, away from most of the work. We just finished core drilling Sun Ridge which has four tunnels I have not been in, but the drilling and blasting has begun tearing this high grade target down, and I may not get back to work there until they are long buried. I have some hand tools, bits of dynamite fuse, interesting bits of crystal and ore, and other odds and ends I carry out with me as a connection to the past. I share my geologic and archeologic finds with my kids in hopes they develop some of the same sort of connection.
I deliberately take the long / different way home when I travel and spend a fair amount of time off road just scouting. People have no idea of the staggering amount of mining in the West at the turn of the last century. Nevada prepared a survey of historical and active workings, pits, shafts, adits, prospects, etc. as preparation for closing the most dangerous of them. The number was in the hundreds of thousands. http://minerals.state.nv.us/forms/aml/a ... 090330.pdf
There are many dozens of ghost towns and sites. Arizona and western New Mexico, central Utah and Colorado are no different.
Good luck and be careful


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 9:20 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Thanks a lot for sharing your story. Yes, threads never die on a forum system, that is one good thing about them! Obviously we (and it seems you as well) are more interesting in the traditional mining techniques of mining underground over open pit mining for obvious reasons, but yes your story is interesting. Sometimes additionally, you can take advantage of the dewatering techniques of the open pit mines as the nearby underground drifts and tunnels empty into the larger mine, giving you more area to explore. It is certainly ashame to hear about the historic mines being eaten up though, and thus why our mission is to document whatever we can. We have heard similar stories about the Mount Hope Rock Company (Tilcon) blasting away in the quarry, and once in a while hitting annoying timbers from the nearby Mount Hope Mine that they are slowly eating up. Although only the upper levels.

Our group has been quite around documenting different places, I can certainly buy that 200,000 number for just Nevada. Mines are all over the place in those areas, it is amazing. What we find nice though is that it is usually untouched. Many of the mines out there look as if they were worked yesterday. Something that is a little difficult for us out North East to find. Thus why it is very exciting down in your area as the mines are generally dry, pretty intact, and undisturbed.

Is the mining company investigating the old workings as sources of new high grade ore? It probably would make sense for them to do things like that, and it probably would be one heck of a job. Although it is always sad to see the historic mines destroyed.

Miner Greg


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 10:36 pm 
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Location: MT,AZ, NV, UT, CO, PA
Hey Greg,

Not investigating them per se, but we are coring the ground around and under them, and they are being swallowed up by the mine. The scale of mining via open pit is far more vast than the high grade veins the old timers used to chase. These old workings just disappear. I have heard a story from one of the cat operators of an old locker room that one of the shovels tore into one day, complete with lockers, benches, odds and ends of clothing, tools, hardhats, lamps, etc. One of the drillers salvaged an old single jack sledge circa 1900 or so from another drift near where we were working last summer, kinda cool.
Morenci processes about 500,000 tons of material a day, down from something around a million and a half at the beginning of just last year. The fleet of haul trucks and shovels idled as a result is sort of sad. I'll post a pic, in the near future, the scale of the equipment is pretty amazing when parked together.
The ore type is different as well, we are now actively pursuing sulfide type ores, as well as the oxides of years past, and the copper concentrations are far lower. The bottom of the pit has been drilled as I recall and it turns out there are some interesting targets under old muck piles, and possibly deep beneath the mine itself. Freeport McMoRan is starting to think that the new open pit mine being developed at Lone Star, near Safford is part of a trend that connects it to Morenci, almost thirty miles distant.
Resolution Copper near Superior, AZ. is another interesting project. The concentrations of copper in this potential underground mine as revealed by very deep coring work, is world class in richness and size. It will be mined via shaft and heading to a depth of at least 7000 to 8000 ft. The new main shaft is being sunk, currently at about 700+ feet, and the scale of the headframe is amazing. The rock temps are very hot in this area, close to 170+ F. and the robotic technology being proposed for the deepest parts of the mine is supposedly being developed now for use when work commences at those depths in about 20 years. I had a geologist tell me that block caving and backfill using muck is the method of production they are studying.
Anyways, sorry to ramble. Good luck and be careful.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 9:44 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Thanks for the update! What is the rock temperatures at 700' where they are mining? Its kind of interesting going down up to 8000' underground, but the temperatures make it unappealing to humans. I understand in a lot of these mines, they pump fresh cold air in to make the mine habitable. I'm not sure what the limit is to doing this though. Robot operation isn't as appealing to me though.. But much safer..

I'd love to see pictures of this, including the headframe. These pits do sound very impressive as well.

Miner Greg


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:12 pm 
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Hey there Greg,
The rock temps are not too bad I hear just yet. All hard rock mines are ventilated, in fact it is one of the most basic design parameters. Diesel and pneumatic equipment are the primary means of work underground and MSHA is pretty tough on these things in the areas of particulates and respirable mists and vapors. Getting fresh air to the face of the heading is one of the biggest tasks in mining.
The existing main shaft will be the new exhaust, and air will be drawn down the compartmentalized new shafts as they are sunk and linked to the old one(s). I believe that at current deep old working levels refrigeration units are in place for cooling off during shifts.
They have sunk the new shaft and created a raise bore driven from an old area of work called the No Sweat Tunnel, which runs a couple of miles I believe back towards the town of Superior. The muck from the current work is simply pushed into the bore and allowed to fall, where it is collected up and hauled out via this rail, instead of raised to the surface. No hauling would be allowed on this scale through this area, the Forest Service and the Apaches seem bent on making the development of this mine as difficult as possible, and the current "scenic" highway would not handle the traffic. Resolution ( Rio Tinto / BHP ) believes this mine will supply up to 20 percent of the US consumption of copper when it reaches full development, even though the full scale of the ore body is yet to be determined. Freeport's Lone Star deposit I mentioned before is another ore body of far more massive scale. There is something to be said for domestic supply of critical raw materials.
The land exchange pending in Congress is vital to the development of Resolution. They are offering up some spectacular country in exchange for the land under devlopment proposal. You can find their info page here: http://securearizonasfuture.com/
as well as:
http://www.resolutioncopper.com/
Contact your Congressional delegation to support them.
Sorry, but I am obviously biased.
Back to Elko / Battle Mountain underground drilling for gold...........
Good luck and be careful.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:41 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2007 3:48 am
Posts: 70
Location: Stockton, Ca
I helped prepare that survey for the state of Nevada while I was in college there. The one summer I interned for the state we found 500 some new mines and secured a little over 400 already approved for securing(not including the ones we discovered.). Those mines ranged from small prospect cuts to full on open stopes the you could toss a rock down and not hear it hit bottom.

_________________
Erik Novoa
Miner/ Railroader


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