The Morenci open-pit copper mine in southeast Arizona is North America's leading producer of copper. In the 1860s, prospectors arrived looking for gold; instead they found copper. Underground mining began in the 1870s, and the first pit was opened in 1939. Phelps Dodge employs over 200 people in the mining and refining operations. Around-the-clock removal of 700,000 tons of rock per day results in production of 382 thousand tons of copper per year. Phelps Dodge is now developing the Safford Mine, about 12 km southwest of Morenci. It will be the first new copper mine in the US in more than 30 years. When production starts in 2008, the Safford Mine will produce 109 thousand tons of copper. This ASTER image uses shortwavelength infrared bands to highlight in bright pink the altered rocks in the Morenci pit associated with copper mineralization.
The image covers an area of 21 x 16.9 km, was acquired on July 14, 2007, and is centered near 33.1 degrees north latitude, 109.5 degrees west longitude.
The U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.