An 11-foot-diameter tire from a 240-ton haul truck provides a
great photo opportunity for kids and adults.
Nowhere else in the State of Arizona can you find regularly scheduled, public tours of a working open-pit copper mine available without a prior reservation. On your tour, you’ll see how copper ore is mined in the open-pit and then at the center you can see how it is processed in the mill to extract the copper minerals.
The mine tour begins at the Mineral Discovery Center. There you can purchase tickets for the tour and become familiar with the copper mining process in our exhibit center and video theater. There is no admission charge for the Mineral Discovery Center exhibits, Discovery Theater, or gift shop.
Planning a grade school outing?
How about visiting our mine?
Call us and schedule a visit!
Tom Phillips, General Manager Mission Mine and Sandra Elizondo,
AMDC Sales Coordinator, show off the new tour bus.
ASARCO recently purchased a new bus for the Mine Tours, offered by the Mineral Discovery Center.
The vehicle, a 2013 Starcraft, has a 40 passenger seat capacity and a fully automatic wheelchair lift. With this new acquisition, the Mineral Discovery Center expects to continue to offer excellent service to the thousands of visitors that take the mine tour every year.
Discovery Center Hours (October through April):
Tuesday through Saturday
Exhibit Center and Gift Shop: 9:00am to 5:00pm
Mine Tours: 9:30am, 11:00am, 12:30pm, 2:00pm, 3:30pm
(Tour schedule is subject to change. Please call for reservations.)
Sunday and Monday – Closed
Major Holidays – Closed
During the month of February open on Mondays also
(520) 625-8233 or (520) 625-7513
* No pets allowed please, except for service dogs.
Mine Tour prices:
|$ 7.00||Seniors (62+ years) and Active Military|
|$ 6.00||Children (5-12 years)|
|Free||Children (0-4 years)|
The Open-Pit Viewpoint
The first stop on your tour is the Open-Pit Viewpoint on the south rim of the Mission Mine. The viewpoint is securely fenced for your safety, and it has four binocular telescopes to provide a close-up view of the trucks and shovels working in the mine.
The Mission Mine is a quarter-mile deep, two miles from north to south, and a mile-and-three-quarters from east to west. About six times the amount of earth moved to dig the Panama Canal has been mined here.
Aerial view of the Mission Complex, looking southwest
The Mission open-pit copper mine was at one time five separate mining properties, but over the years, Asarco has combined them into one integrated mining operation. The mine occupies around 20,000 acres of private, State leased, and Indian land. As of July 2011 there are over 600 employees working three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Each year the mine has the capacity to process about 260,000 tons of copper concentrates which yields 132,700,000 pounds of copper and 1,234,000 ounces of silver. Annually, the Mission mine pays royalties and taxes to the State of Arizona and royalties to the Tohono O’odham Indian nation.
The Mission mine buys goods and services from Arizona vendors, helping to provide additional jobs in Tucson and Pima County.
The South Mill
At the Mill, the copper ore is ground into a powder so the copper minerals can be separated by the froth flotation process. One of our AMDC staff members is here to explain what happens at the mill and to answer your questions.
These huge mills grind the ore into a fine powder
so the copper minerals can be separated by flotation.
The return trip to the Mineral Discovery Center will take you alongside current reclamation areas. The tailings are nothing more than ground-up rock with the copper minerals removed.
For more information about the mining and milling processes, click the Making Copper button on the menu above.
Back at the Center
When your tour returns to the Mineral Discovery Center, take some time to explore the exhibits both inside and outside. Feel free to ask questions of any staff member. And don’t miss The Company Store gift shop to find that special memento of your visit.