The Mine That Ate an Arizona Town
MORENCI — If you ever dug up your mom’s garden with a tin scoop shovel and hauled the dirt away in a toy dump truck, you might want to look down into the Morenci Mine and appreciate what grownups can do with real tools. The open pit copper mine is one of the largest man-made holes in the world. It’s so big — more than 2,500 feet deep, two miles across and a nine-mile perimeter — that it once swallowed up an entire town.
Like the one that replaced it, the town was called Morenci. When the original Morenci got in the way of the project, the mining company built a new community, razed the old buildings and began digging up the land underneath. The mine, now owned and operated by Freeport McMoRan, still contains a substantial portion of the world’s copper reserves.
Tours are not available, but there is a lookout point where excavation groupies can look down almost a half-mile.