GEOG 000

7.2.2: The World's Largest Single Pit


7.2.2: The World's Largest Single Pit

Here is an aerial view of one of the largest and most famous open pit copper mines – the Bingham Canyon Mine operated by Rio Tinto.

Overhead photo of Bigham Canyon copper mine
Figure 7.2.6: Bingham Canyon open pit copper mine.

Rio Tinto Kennecott runs the world’s largest single pit, Bingham Canyon open pit copper mine. This pit stretches three-quarters of a mile deep and nearly three miles across at the top. The pit is wide enough to stack 12 aircraft careers end-to-end. This mine carries out a sequence of drilling, blasting, loading, hauling, crushing and conveying 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. It has been in production for more than a century, and has produced more than 19 million tons of copper. Gold, silver, molybdenum and sulfuric acid are byproducts of Bingham Canyon Mine. The mine has 12 shovels (10 electric, two hydraulic) that fill an average of 2,100 haul-truck loads each day. There are 110 haul trucks ranging in capacity from 240 to 320-tons. You might not expect this, but there are seven water trucks with 50,000-gallon tanks, and these trucks spray water onto haul roads round-the-clock to reduce dust. Ore is transported to, and unloaded into, one of the world’s largest crushers, running at a rate of 10,000 tons per hour. At the end of this lesson, I am going to direct you to a video where you will learn more about these large open pit mines.