Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bingham Canyon Mine - Cool Salt Lake City Day Trip

We spent part of our day in the center of the earth ... well kind of. OK ... we spent our day in the largest open pit excavation project on Earth.  The same open pit excavation that can be seen from the Space Station which does not really register until you are standing at the Visitor Center at the Bingham Canyon Mine (aka the Kennecott Copper Mine) and looking into that open pit.  The mine has been in production since 1906, and has resulted in the creation of a pit over 0.75 miles (1.2 km) deep, 2.5 miles (4 km) wide, and covering 1,900 acres (7.7 km²).

Although it struck me as a bit surreal and a bit creepy, the boys loved it.  The Visitor Center offers a nice little mini museum and a brief movie discussing the history of the Bingham Canyon Mine and talks about the current day operations.  Which are huge.  Huge like the PIT.

We were there on Sunday and everything except the little gift shop was open.  You pay at the gate and then make your way up the winding road about 3.5 miles to the Visitor Center that is perched on the edge of the open pit.  Massive trucks make their way up and down the teeny (to my paranoid and vertigo powered perception) roads that hug the inside of the mountain and provide access up and down.  Excavation is continuous.

It is certainly something to see but I will admit to a slight sense of relief as we made our way out of the pit and back to civilization!  

Some cool facts about the mine:

  • Bingham Canyon has proven to be one of the world's most productive mines. As of 2004, ore from the mine has yielded more than 17 million tons (15.4 Mt) of copper, 23 million ounces (715 t) of gold, 190 million ounces (5,900 t) of silver, and 850 million pounds (386 kt) of molybdenum.
  • The value of metals produced in 2006 at Bingham Canyon was US$1.8 billion dollars.
  •  Employing 1,800 employees and hundreds of contractors, 450,000 tons (408 kt) of material are removed from the mine daily. Electric shovels can carry up to 56 cubic yards (43 m³) or 98 tons (89 t) of ore in a single scoop.
  • Today, as the second largest copper producer in the United States, Kennecott Utah Copper provides about 13-18% percent of the U.S.'s copper needs.
  • The current mine plan will expire in 2019. Rio Tinto is currently studying a plan to extend the open pit 1,000 feet southward, which would extend the life of the mine into the mid-2030s.
h/t to Wikipedia - Bingham Canyon Mine 

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Hhhhmmm, this must be a fun place to visit. im pretty sure I saw a post about this place a couple months ago.

    I cant believe how HUGE it is!

  2. I wondered about this last time we were driving in the area...I know where we are going next vacation, lol. Thanks!


who doesn't like comments? tell me what you think and make sure you add your blog as a friend of the Hive!

Related Posts with Thumbnails