We all know as scrappers, we are always looking for that quick glimmer of the bright orange glow of copper pipe or wire to start collecting for scrap. Copper is a highly recycled item, mainly due to the value of it at scrap yards, however we wanted to get down to the source and find out where copper comes from. As an element on earth, copper is found in mines and the iScrap App wanted to explore some of the characteristics and information behind these copper mines.
With a variety of colors, shapes, and other types of characteristics for mines you get different perspectives from each type that you will find. Copper miners deal with all types of tough environments throughout the year. With the temperature in the mines ranging from 80-110 degrees at times and locations, while they always know what to expect it is still a difficult thing to work in.
History & Facts
Copper miners have been working around the world for hundreds if not thousands of years pulling copper out to be refined. One of the most popular areas for copper mining right now is Chile, China, and Peru. These countries are heavy into mining and have thousands of workers are employed to pull out the copper ore out of the mines so that they can get refined and be made into the scrap that we all know and love!
Copper mining, and mining in general, is a very dangerous industry. Many remember the collapsed mine shaft a few years ago in Chile that took 69 days to get the 33 workers out alive. That happened in a gold and copper mine and shows how dangerous that working in these conditions can be. Many people do not know that many mines are 2-3 miles below the Earth when you account for the tunnels and ducts to get to where the ore is located.
Largest Underground Copper Mine In The World
Chile’s copper mine El Teniente is the largest underground copper mine and the sixth biggest copper mine in the world. Located 80 km (50 mi.) south of Santiago, in the Andes mountain range, El Teniente is currently undergoing an expansion project that will extend the mine’s production life by 50 years. The New Mine Level Project cost is $5.4 billion and will extend the current mining operation deeper by 100 meters (about 0.5 mi.) below the existing main haulage level, which is where the material is transported to the mining shafts.
With the new expansion, the mine will be able to access approximately 2.02 billion tons of copper ore. This mining site was discovered in the early 19th century and has been operating since 1905. Today there are about 3,000 km (1864 mi.) of underground tunnels which is about the distance from New York to Las Vegas. In 2013 El Teniente produced about 450,000 tons of copper and about 423,100 tons the year before. Read more about the El Teniente mine.
Copper and Gold mining are one of the dangerous jobs out there and as scrappers sometimes we have to take a minute to think about where stuff came from. Scrapping is awesome…but the miners that are taking out the copper ore are in a very tough situation when they go to work and it is worth thinking about them before scrapping next time.