Asarco Mineral Discovery Center


The ore body at Asarco's Mission Mine has an average grade of about 0.67% copper, meaning that every 2,000 lbs. of ore produces only about 13 lbs. of copper. Moreover, for every ton of ore, about 3 more tons of waste rock must be removed. To ensure that operating the large-scale, open-pit mine is economically feasible, mining engineers use sophisticated, interactive, graphical computer programs to develop mine plans based on different metal prices and track the progress of the mining operation. This way, when the price of copper is high, mostly lower-grade ores are mined, and when the price is low, mainly higher-grade ores are mined.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil, Environmental, Mechanical
Topic(s):Structures
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The mine uses a high-speed computer system to track each truck and shovel and calculate when a shovel will need a truck to load and which truck will be nearby. This reduces the waiting time for both the shovel and truck. The dispatch system also monitors the trucks' vital signs like oil pressure and temperature, to help prevent breakdowns.