What Does A Copper Mine Look Like

what does a copper mine look like

Where Can We See Raw Copper?

As scrappers, we always look 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 due to its value at scrap yards. However, we wanted to get down to the source and find copper’s origin. 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.

There are a variety of colors, shapes, and other characteristics of mines, so you get different perspectives from each type. Copper miners deal with all types of tough environments throughout the year. The temperature in the mines ranges from 80 to 110 degrees at times and locations, so while they always know what to expect, it is still a difficult thing to work in.

History & Facts About Copper Mining

Copper miners have been working worldwide for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, pulling copper out to be refined. Chile, China, and Peru are among the most popular areas for copper mining right now. These countries are heavily into mining and have thousands of workers employed to pull the copper ore out of the mines so that it can be refined and made into the scrap that we all know and love!

Copper mining, and mining in general, is a hazardous industry. Many remember the collapsed mine shaft a few years ago in Chile, which took 69 days to get the 33 workers out alive. That happened in a gold and copper mine and shows how dangerous 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

El Teniente mine

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 undergoing an expansion project extending the mine’s production life by 50 years. The New Mine Level Project cost is $5.4 billion. It will extend the mining operation deeper by 100 meters (about 0.5 mi.) below the existing main haulage level, 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 operated since 1905. Today, there are about 3,000 km (1864 mi.) of underground tunnels, about the distance from New York to Las Vegas. In 2013, El Teniente produced about 450,000 tons of copper and 423,100 tons the year before. Read more about the El Teniente mine.

largest underground copper mine

Copper and Gold mining are dangerous jobs, and as scrappers, sometimes we have to take a minute to think about where stuff came from. Scrapping is awesome, but the miners who 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.