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Santa Rita in Grant County, New Mexico — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Modern Mining & Processing

Santa Rita Copper Mine

 
 
Modern Mining & Processing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 6, 2014
1. Modern Mining & Processing Marker
Inscription.  The Santa Rita copper mine owes its success to modernization programs that began in the 1980s and continue to this day.

Mining occurs at the Santa Rita Mine 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Since 1910, more than two billion tons of material have been moved. Today, the Santa Rita Mine is more than a mile across and more than 1,600 feet deep. It continues to grow as copper-bearing ore is mined.

Higher-grade ore is treated at a "concentrator." The rock is crushed, ground and processed from its naturally-occurring 0.6% copper to about 25% copper. Surprisingly, copper-containing minerals are recovered from the rock by "floating" them. This copper concentrate is shipped by rail to a smelter in Arizona where the copper is extracted. Currently, Chino produces about 100 million pounds of copper by this method each year.

Lower-grade ore is treated by a "solution extraction-electrowinning" process. In this method, a weak acid solution is dripped through stockpiled rock. The dissolved copper solution is collected. In this process, the copper is concentrated from 1.3 grams of copper per liter to 50 grams per liter. An electric current
Marker detail: Modern Mining image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Modern Mining
Not only is the Santa Rita Mine one of the oldest mines in the United States, it is also one of the most modern mines. Here, a $14 million electric shovel loads a $2.5 million truck. Each shovel “dipper” can load 80 tons of rock.
is introduced into this rich blue-colored liquid and the copper is "electrowon" or "electroplated" onto plates called cathodes. Currently, Chino produces about 100 million pounds of copper by this method each year.
 
Erected by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
 
Location. 32° 48.407′ N, 108° 4.396′ W. Marker is in Santa Rita, New Mexico, in Grant County. Marker is on Scenic State Road 152 1.1 miles east of State Highway 356, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located at an interpretive exhibit overlooking the open pit mine site to the south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hanover NM 88041, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Reclaiming the Land (here, next to this marker); The Companies & People (here, next to this marker); Santa Rita Copper Mine (here, next to this marker); Open Pit Mining (here, next to this marker); The Early Mining Years (here, next to this marker); The Discovery (here, next to this marker); Kneeling Nun (approx. 2.8 miles away); Ladies Auxiliary of Local 890 (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Santa Rita.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Santa Rita Copper Mine
 
Also see . . .
Marker detail: Today's Concentrator image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Today's Concentrator
Ore found in the Santa Rita Mine is only about 0.6% copper, which is too low to be sent to a smelter. To recover the metal, the copper ore is crushed and sent to a nearby concentrator (not visible from this location.) This concentrator was built in 1982 and replaced the original 1911 concentrator.
 Chino Copper Mine. The Chino mine complex houses an electrowinning (SX/EW) plant capable of producing up to 150Mlbs of copper cathode a year. The Chino mine was estimated to hold 324 million tonnes of proven and probable ore reserves tonnes grading 0.45% copper and containing approximately 2.7 billion pounds of copper as of December 2019. (Submitted on October 16, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: Another Way to Extract Copper image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Another Way to Extract Copper
Freeport-McMoRan has transitioned some copper production from the older concentrator-smelter process to a solution extraction-electrowinning process, called “SX-EW.” Here, copper cathodes are being “harvested.” Each copper sheet weighs 200 pounds.
Modern Mining & Processing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 6, 2014
5. Modern Mining & Processing Marker
(2nd from right of six related markers at this interpretive site)
Santa Rita Copper Mine image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 6, 2014
6. Santa Rita Copper Mine
(looking south into open pit mine from near marker • giant shovel and truck visible as tiny specs in background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 44 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on October 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 16, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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