The biggest, deadliest and deepest mines in the world are all located in the United States and you can visit them at your convenience. The best thing about taking a trip to see the mines is the low cost. You get a glimpse of some of the most spectacular views on the planet. Some mines are active and offer you the opportunity to watch rock explosions and equipment for mining, including the largest dump trucks with capacities in excess of 300 tons and weight of more then 1,000,000 pounds. Few of the mines boast of an on-site museum or visitor center. Public tours are available at some sites.
The Berkeley Pit lies right outside of Butte in Montana. The pit is filled with poison almost a third mile deep and a mile and half wide. The poison bears a green tinge. The region was at a point of time a prosperous copper mine, producing millions of tons of copper ore, gold, silver and other metals from the soil. With the rise in the cost of underground mining in the 50’s, Berkeley Pit became an open pit mine. With the increase in depth and area, groundwater made its way into the pit and pumps were installed to prevent flooding. The mine was exhausted in 30 years and no longer generated any profit. The water pumps were shut down. As a result, the accumulated water turned acidic, forming a poisonous combination of zinc, arsenic and lead. Living beings cannot survive in the water, except some rare microorganisms. Authorities use loudspeakers and gunshots to scare away migratory birds. Mists often creep out of the pit and into Butte. The EPA focuses on the containment of the fatal fog. The pit is open for viewing from March to November.
The largest open pit mine in the world is located close to Hibbing in Minnesota. The area covered by the Hull Rust Mine happens to be 5 miles in length, 2 miles wide with a depth of 535 feet, at its maximum. Iron ore was first extracted from the mines in the year 1895. What started as a tiny underground mine has now become one expansive open pit as various mines began to form and emerge. The actual pit has its center at the location of the original Hibbing town. As the mine increased in size, the town shifted its base. The move began in 1919 and was completed two years later. 20 businesses and a total of 185 houses were moved some miles in the southward direction. Approximately 700 million tons of iron ore have been extracted from the pit. An additional 530 million tons of waste has been removed. The Hibbing Taconite Company operates the mine at present. An observation building helps view mining activities. The best time to visit is from the middle of May till September.
Situated near Salt Lake City, the Bingham Canyon Mine happens to be the deepest open pit excavation in the world, covering an area 2.75 miles across and 0.75 miles deep. Mining operations began at the site in 1906. Copper is the main mineral, making Bingham Canyon the biggest copper mine in the US. Byproduct minerals include the production of silver, gold, molybdenum and sufficient amounts of palladium and platinum. Almost 450,000 tons of rock is extracted from the mine by the Kennecott mining company on a daily basis. The production statistics has bestowed the title of “the Richest Hole on Earth” to Bingham Canyon Mine. The combined value of the metals produced at the mine on an annual basis is US $1.8 billon dollars. A visitor’s center educates the public on sustainable development, mining practices and the necessity of mining in modern times. 3D models and historic videos and photographs are on display at the center. The mine remains in operation 24 hours a day for the entire year. The period from April to October is suitable for taking a trip to the mines. Entrance fees are donated to charity.