On February 22nd, we departed from Butterfield RV Resort for another day of exciting exploration. Today’s adventure would include another trip to the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center for our 12:30 p.m. mine tour reservation, a drive of approximately 55 minutes. Adults are $17.50; Seniors $14.00; Children between the ages of 5 and 12 are $7.00. Note there is no charge to peruse the displays in the Visitor Center.
The 45 minutes tour began in the Discovery Center where our tour guide, Jim, explained the history of Asarco and the mining industry.
Arizona is nicknamed “The Copper State” and if it was a country, it would be the second largest producer of copper in the entire world. Only Chile produces more copper than Arizona.
Once he finished his spiel inside, we were directed outside where we boarded a bus which would take us past the south mill, where the copper ore is ground into a powder – from there, the copper minerals are separated by froth flotation.
We then went to the reclamation areas via bus – the tailings (ground rock with the copper minerals removed) are kept in specific areas.
The entire tour was fascinating with the highlight being the yawning open pit of the Mission Mine, some 2 miles long and 1¾ miles wide on 20,000 acres because so much earth has to be torn up to extract the 1% that is copper.
The only downside was that we couldn’t always hear what Jim, our tour guide, was saying. He spent a lot of time talking to individuals who asked questions instead of explaining to everyone what we were looking at.
Want to experience this tour? Then check out this YouTube video created by “Living In Thailand” in 2022.
Check out more of our photos here.