Monday, April 10, 2017

Pima Mine | Arizona

This is only a portion of the Pima Copper Mine, since it covers 22,000 acres of land about 15 miles from the southern area of Tucson. 

From north to south, the mine covers 2 3/4 miles and from east to west, it covers 2 1/2 miles.  I couldn't fit it all in this panoramic shot.  It's about 1700 feet deep at this time.   The mine is in operation 24 hours a day

While I was waiting for the tour to begin, I took photos of equipment that has been retired, and it is amazing the equipment that was used, and the size of some of them.

This is an interesting piece of equipment from years gone by.

I think it's even more interesting because of the origin of this equipment - Ronstadt's Hardware Store in Tucson.  For those who may not know, that was Linda Ronstadt's father's store.


This truck hauled rocks out of the mine and had a 170 ton capacity with a 1600 hp engine.

There are all sorts of other equipment pieces scattered around.


This monster truck is 23' tall, 24' wide and 46' long and has a 240 ton capacity.  Some of these trucks have to be shipped to the mine on flatbed trailers in pieces because they're too large to go on regular roads.   The trucks currently in use today have tires that are 12 feet tall and they are changed every 6 months, costing thousands of dollars.

Detroit diesel - this one is 3968 cubic inches and 2700 horsepower!  It weighs over 15,000 pounds and uses 40 gallons of fuel per hour. 

Because it is "small" this shovel is no longer in use, although you could probably put a decent-sized truck in it.

An old fire extinguisher.......

Some of these mine were started as underground mines, then as technology grew, pit mines were started in the same areas and overtook the underground mines.  This is left from an old underground mine.

Because it's so tall and not used, this raven decided to build a nest at the top.

Small railroad-type cars carried the rocks out of the underground mines.

There is small equipment all over this museum area, this is a "shovel tooth" for digging.

This is inside the processing area, where the rocks are broken down into smaller pieces.

After being broken apart they are put into another area and mixed with chemicals, then water is added.  The bubbling of the water and chemicals makes the copper pieces come to the surface to be collected and taken for smelting.  The bottom of this photo shows the mixture bubbling.

This is the next step, which separates other minerals from the soup.  They are also able to get silver and other minerals after the main ingredient of copper.

The mine produces 147,000 tons of rocks in one day, and after processing, amounts to 200 tons of pure copper, as well as other minerals .  

 Lime milk is used in processing and this machine reminded me of a big milkshake machine!


  1. Love your comprehensive pictures. You make things, that I probably wouldn't do, seen interesting.

    1. Thanks,Evie, I love it when people like my photos!