It’s Not Just Copper…It’s Gold

You can see the Great Wall of China from the Moon, right? Wrong. Despite the myth, you can’t see the Great Wall from that distance*. You can’t see the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine from the Moon either. Regardless, both man-made creations (which can be seen from several hundred miles above the earth) are impressive and worthy of a visit. However, since we’re already contributing enough to the Chinese economy, I recommend you take your tourism dollars to the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine-currently owned by the Kennecott Corporation. You won’t be the first to add this destination to your Salt Lake City vacation itinerary-nearly 3 million have visited since 1992-and you won’t be disappointed.

Over a number of years, various friends encouraged me to go, describing the experience as “awesome,” “stunning,” and “amazing.” I generally rolled my eyes. However, I finally went, was very impressed and renewed a New Year’s resolution to stop being such a cynic.The Bingham Canyon Mine is the deepest open-pit mine and, according to Kennecott, the largest man-made excavation in the world. It has produced more copper than any mine in history–nearly 19 million tons– and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966.
My twin boys (age 6) were particularly enamored, as was their Dad, with the massive trucks that transport ore (from which copper is extracted). Each truck weighs more than a jumbo jet; each tire is nearly 20 feet high and costs approximately $20,000.

The Visitor Center is interesting and informative, featuring an optional 15-minute film. Since Kennecott produced the film, it’s a little top-heavy extolling the positives of the company, but it does contain some fascinating information about copper and the extraction process. For instance, the average American uses about 30 pounds of copper each year. Before or after the Visitor Center experience, you can take pictures outside next to one of the enormous truck tires mentioned above. And you will want to spend a few minutes enjoying the breath-taking view of the mine from a vista point above the pit.