Inside Wall Of Open-Pit Copper Mine

Hurley, New Mexico, USA

Originally mined by Native Americans and later by Spaniards, this mine, also known as the Santa Rita, was the cause of much treachery and murder between invasive Caucasians and Native Americans over the centuries. The Chino is one of the oldest open-pit mines in the American Southwest, and many modern open-pit mining techniques were developed there. 

The typical extraction process at an open-pit mine begins with large drill rigs which bore a carefully-planned pattern of holes approximately 12 inches in diameter and 60 feet deep into the pit’s rock walls. The holes are filled with an explosive compound of fuel oil and ammonium nitrate. Upon detonation, thousands of tons of ore are fragmented in a single blast. This low-grade ore is crushed and piled in specially-lined heaps. Sulfuric acid is percolated through the heaps, dissolving copper minerals contained in the rock, which are collected and refined to metallic copper.

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