When planning a visit to Salt Lake City, most people imagine themselves floating down slopes of champagne powder, playing 18 holes of golf, or trail running. But if you have an interest in geology – or simply want to witness the one of the world’s largest open pit mines – then consider taking a short road trip to the Oquirrh Mountains to visit the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine.
Having a 2.75 mile diameter and a 0.75-mile depth, this enormous man-made crater has yielded over 19 million tons (17.2 billion kilograms) of copper – more than any other mine on the planet. Here, enormous shovels dig up the earth up in 98-ton scoops. The roads criss-crossing the mine stretch an aggregate 500 miles. And the smokestack, at 1,215 feet in height, is the tallest structure in Utah; if it were 35 feet taller, it would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Empire State Building. The pit itself stretches from 4,390 feet to 8,040 feet above sea level, and the vehicles used in it would dwarf many houses.
Bingham Canyon Copper Mine operates its own on-location visitor center. Open seven days a week, April 1 – October 31 each year, this center stands at about mid-height in the mine, at 6,440 feet above sea level. Inside, you’ll learn about various aspects of this mine itself, as well as the big picture of world mineral consumption. Whether you’re interested in the “old days” of the Bingham Canyon Mine, the enormous and modern equipment used at the mine today, or the geology of the world, you’ll find photographs, illustrations, maps, artifacts, and 3-D models to educate you.