Kennecott copper mine

H and I spent the weekend with each other just taking it easy. The weekend began with a bit of work around the house and in the yard followed by a trip out to Kennecott copper mine. My Grandfatherwould have loved it.

I’ve lived in the Salt Lake Valley for a while now and can see the mine across the valley right out of my laboratory window, yet this was the first time out to the mine. I must admit that the drive up to the mine was much prettier than I anticipated for an open pit/strip mine. It is apparent that Kennecott is making some effort at reclamation and rehabilitation. It was an interesting place, apparently the largest open pit mine in the world where they have essentially turned a mountain inside out by moving over 6 billion tons of rock and ore since operations began in 1906. The mountain peak you see at the end of Bingham canyon in the picture below taken approximately in the early 1920s is now the pit you see in the introductory image.

Since 1906, the mine has produced approximately 17 million tons of copper, making it the most productive copper mine in history. The mine also has produced about 23 million ounces of gold, 190 million ounces of silver, and 890 million pounds of molybdenum, and it also produces about a million tons of sulfuric acid every year.

The trucks typically carry about 300 tons of rock per trip to the crusher. Interestingly, the tires on these things run anywhere from $18,000 to $26,000 and last only nine months. No wonder there is a shortage of tires for mining trucks right now.


The weekend was finished off with H running the Farmington Half Marathon, while I sat in the car and worked on a grant to be submitted with my friends at Stanford. The fantastic rains of earlier in the day gave way to blue skies and the holiday of course was finished with a grilled New York strip steak from Emigration Market. They have a great butcher counter with a rather nice selection of meats and they did not disappoint for the Memorial Day BBQ. Dessert was some of H’s finest chocolate cake. Mmmmmmm, wonderful.

Finally, I captured this little movie the other day and got a kick out of it. The grey alien looking bodies being carried are dummies for disaster training, but pay attention to the audio at the end. Robert walked up behind me and made his comment just as I finished recording.

10 Replies to “Kennecott copper mine”

  1. The pictures are super…They remind me of the 70’s where I worked the largest truck operated pit in Butte montana,Berkley pit.You miners are super.Work safe…Joe

  2. Hey, I am a student at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and I was wondering if I could use some of your pictures for a project I am doing about mining.

    1. Hello Paul,

      Can you tell me more about your project? Is it an academic/school project? If so, I would be happy to grant non-exclusive rights to reproduce imagery for your project. If it is commercial or for any use other than your school project, then we need to negotiate a price.

      1. Yeah, It’s a school project, and we have no interest in commercial uses. We are doing a project about mining, not any specific type, and we mention copper mining and the pictures of the huge mining trucks, as well as the mining pit, caught my eye.

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