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Open-Pit Copper Mine Tour

Tubac, Arizona: First thing, I get to be a Bragging Bubbe and show-off the adorable Valentine I received from the Cutest Baby Ever:

What a heart-melting munchkin.

The weather drastically improved yesterday. We ran - partially on the abandoned dog-racing track behind the RV park - worked a bit, but were able to find a little time to relax in the glorious Arizona sunshine.

Our Adventure for today was a tour through a copper mine and the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center, situated between Tubac and Tucson.

The grounds were very pretty, so we had a stroll around before entering the Discovery Center and exploring their informational displays - then joined an organized tour ($8). We were put on a bus with about twenty other visitors and driven up, up, up to the rim of the crater. Along the way we spotted a few wild mustangs! Owned by a huge Mexican company operating 13 mines, the Mission Copper Mine is over two miles across and 1500 feet deep. 650 union workers extract copper 365 days a year. The mine never closes.

Earth from this mine is scooped up and trucked down to the bottom of the hill, where it is crushed several times, processed in liquid baths and then dried. It leaves this plant looking like wet black sand, containing 28% copper. Next, it it trucked to a facility north of Tucson where it is further refined and then finally on to a plant in Texas where it leaves as a coffee-table-top-sized sheet of 99.99% pure copper.

The Mission Copper Mine

Another view of the mine

The rows of holes are filled with explosives and blown-up every weekday at 2:30 in the afternoon

There were many trucks driving around down inside the mine - looking like Matchbox toys

The trucks seem very small from the pit rim - but look at the size of their tires

Our final destination was to a viewing platform in a building above the area where the rocks are crushed to a fine powder in ball mills (massive cylinders filled with heavy steel balls resembling shot puts) and looking over vats of the ore bubbling away in pine oil, which somehow is attracted to copper. There are still two more outdoor pools to extract additional copper before it is dried to the black powder.

Though our tour guide went out of his way to explain how this process is nearly pollution-free, it is difficult for me to believe mining is a clean operation. Still, just thinking about how much copper is in so many products we use every day - makes me feel copper mining will continue on.

Until my next update, I remain, your teeny correspondent.

RV PARK: De Anza RV Resort - 125 really big spaces, full hook-up pull-through and back-ins, free wifi, cable television, bathhouse, laundry, 38,000 square foot clubhouse with indoor heated saltwater swimming pool, restaurant, game rooms, bocce, croquet, water aerobics, rally facilities. Many activities, socials and parties. With the weekly rate, we are paying $35 per night.