Copper Mining and Processing

Areal view of surface facilities at underground copper mine. The towering structures are the headframes of the elevators that lower men, supplies and remove the ore from the mine. This particular mine went 4,500 ft deep. It is about 85 degrees at that depth.

Worker in underground copper mine, using stoper drill to drill the ore. Note the steel mesh that has been bolted to the surrounding rock. This is to protect people from falling rocks, and is usually used when it is determined that the surrounding rock may not be competent or stable. Using one of these drills for 8 hours 4,000 feet below the surface will definately make you sweat!

Workers drilling blast holes in the Open Pit surface mine, and loading them with liquid ANFO explosives for blasting the ore. Enough explosive must be used to give top sized ore that will fit into the primary crusher, but too many explosives would be economically prohibitive. A challenge for the mine engineer that does the blast designs.

Back to the Open Pit Mine, a end loader loading a large haul truck in the Pit area of the surface copper mine. That is a full size pickup truck parked in front of the loader and truck. These large vehicles have state of the art communication equipment in them and are air conditioned. At this mine site, it is over 100 degrees F over 100 days per year.

Scene from the copper process plant, the electrowinning cells where the copper is plated onto cathodes from the sulferic acid solution. Each line in the cell is a plate. There are thousands of plates in this photo. The overhead crane is used to remove the solid copper cathodes. See photo below.

Plant worker removing a bank of solid copper cathodes from the electrowinning cells. Each plate weight 365 pounds and is solid copper. About 275 volts at 25,600 Amps are used in the electrowinning cells to plate the copper and it takes 11 days to plate a bank of cathodes, such as appear above.


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