One of the unexpected things about the Salt Lake City area is the amazing amount of heavy industry that surrounds the downtown and suburbs of the city. The biggest of these industries appears to be mining, an open pit mining at that. From our campground on the north side of the city –The Pony Express RV Resort-you can see large homes on the mountain tops to the east and mining crews seeming carving the mountain out from under them on the west face.
The Bingham Canyon Copper Mine has a visitor’s center and is the largest producing copper mine in the world. It is also one of the largest open pit mines in the world and can be seen from space. The mine was started by several young mining engineers who believed that low grade copper could be extracted at a profit with open pit mining. This was contrary to the conventional wisdom of the time. So in 1903 the first open pit mine was started in Bingham Canyon.
These engineers’ judgment was vindicated, as the mine is the largest producer of copper anywhere. With over 18 million tons of copper produced to date.
It is amazing and ugly at the same time, but since we all need cooper to live our modern life; it has to come from somewhere. The company does have a number of reclamation projects to return the land to a useful state after the mining is complete. They have a land company that is currently building a large housing community called “Day break” on recovered mining land just a few miles from the Bingham mine.
It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.