Dorky 1 and Dorky 2 went on a date. A super romantic date, field trip style. Rio-Tinto-owned Kennecott Copper is a huge mine that is responsible for a big part of Utah’s economy (in addition to being a source of criticism). Here are some cool facts about the open pit mine, taken directly from their website:

About the Mine

  • Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon Mine has produced more copper than any mine in history – about 18.1 million tons.
  • The mine is 2-3/4 miles across at the top and 3/4 of a mile deep. You could stack two Sears Towers (now known as the Willis Building) on top of each other and still not reach the top of the mine.
  • The mine is so big, it can be seen by the space shuttle astronauts as they pass over the United States.
  • By 2015, the mine will be at least 500 feet deeper than it is now.
  • If you stretched out all the roads in the open pit mine, you’d have 500 miles of roadway – enough to reach from Salt Lake City to Denver.

To provide some visual perspective, observe the following picture. See that mountain behind it? The huge pit you now see was once a mountain friend to that one. (The Oquirrh Mountains- pronounced “Oaker”)

Pretty nucks, huh?

Now check out this Tonka-looking truck. Note that you have to climb a freaking staircase to get up to the driver’s seat.

And if that’s not impressive to you, look at the Tonka truck next to these semis:

Imagine one of these babies flying past you in the canyon going up to Park City! Just kidding, their average speed is around 7 mph.

And here’s a pic of a pic in their visitor’s center- look at that beast next to the man! Wowza! The thing is literally the size of a 2-story house.

And here is a student- er, I mean Stan- posing in front of a tire.

That looks like a class photo pose if I’ve ever seen one. Everyone say “green weenies”!

Now if I may, please allow me to explain some of my fascination with this mine and its equipment, again taken directly from Kennecott’s website.

About the Minerals We Use

  • The first known use of copper dates back 10,000 years.
  • To make all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in 1999, the U.S. Mint used about 36,000 tons of copper. That’s about as much refined copper as Kennecott produces every 41 days.
  • Each American uses more than 40,000 pounds of new minerals every year.
  • It takes about 15 different minerals to make a car … 35 different minerals to make a television … 30 minerals to make a computer … and as many as 42 different minerals to make a telephone.
Wow, right? The visitor’s center also included several displays that illustrate just how many household items (including unexpected things like some cosmetics!) contain copper. It really was fascinating.
And I guess that like any good field trip should, learning about all this made me think a little more. So much of what we humans touch and consume is full of minerals, petroleum, metals, and other things from the earth that we don’t really think twice about. Someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to extract them, and I think at times it’s good to acknowledge all their hard work and ingenuity, while at the same time giving a second thought to how much crap we really need to keep buying. (Now that I wrote that I hope you don’t judge me the next time I post about a new throw or set of pots and pans I bought.)
I’m probably also thinking this way because when I looked at last month’s bank statement my jaw hit the floor (resulting in me putting myself on the Dave Ramsey envelope system for all my discretionary spending this month, but that’s a different story). So yeah, I’m kind of in use-it-up-wear-it-out-make-it-do-or-do-without mode- yes, that’s a mode.
So as I return back to blogland from Amandaland, I’ll just say that I hope you enjoyed coming along for our field trip as much as we enjoyed going on it! And if you live in the SLC area, this is a very cheap date. 🙂