Most active mining sites are tightly restricted from the public. Fear of claim jumping or accident keeping an operation weary of visitors. Yet, the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center not only houses educational displays on modern copper mining, but is the departure point for regular guided tours of the open pit mine and mill. The discovery center is free to all visitors and the tour is only a moderate fee.
Copper mining is wide spread throughout Arizona. Like “The Golden State” of California, Arizona has been nicknamed “The Copper State.” Yet, in many cases such as Jerome and Bisbee, mining is a thing of the past. Not so in Sahuarita, AZ, where Asarco’s Mission Mine continues its production.
The view of the open pit Mission Mine is a think of awe. The mine extends two miles north to south, a mile-and-three-quarters east to west, and a quarter-mile deep. The copper in the Mission Mine is rather low grade ore. Every ton of ore contains 13 pounds of copper. Visitors can watch haul trucks collect rubble from the bottom of the pit and bring it up to the mill on the rim.
In the mill, visitors can watch ore crushed into powder and separated in a bubbling froth flotation process. The final product is then shipped away for further refining in other, specialized facilities.
Discovery Center Hours
Tuesday through Saturday
Exhibit Center and Gift Shop: 9:00A.M. to 5:00P.M.
Mine Tours: 9:30A.M., 11:00 A.M., 12:30 P.M., 2:00 P.M., 3:30 P.M.
(Tour schedule is subject to change. Please call for reservations.)
Sunday and Monday – Closed
Major Holidays – Closed
(520) 625-7513 or (520) 625-8233