It's not exactly the Grand Canyon, but your next
Arizona vacation could include the enormous crater of an open-pit
copper mine. ASARCO Inc. ow offers bus tours of its Mission Mine
near Tucson, hauling visitors to an overlook of the two-mile-long,
13'4-mile-wide hole deep enough to hide a 100-story building.
Tourists can also see "the concentrator," a facility that produces
130,000 tons of copper concentrate each year. John Low, mine
manager, says most people don't realize how much they rely on
copper, from the 50 pounds of wiring in a car to the few hundred
pounds of plumbing and wiring in a house. It takes a ton of crushed
earth to produce 13 pounds of copper. The new visitors' center
fails to mention the company's status as the number-one polluter in
Arizona and the sixth major industrial polluter in the nation (HCN,
9/16/96). Instead, it pictures land-reclamation techniques such as
grazing cattle on straw-covered tailings piles. For more
information contact Rob Vugteveen, director of the visitors'
center, at 520/625-7513.