Economic Impacts of Open Pit Mining

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Open-pit mines transport using truck and shovel fleets.
Open-pit mines transport using truck and shovel fleets. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Believe it or not, mining and economics go hand in hand; they are both built on the premise of extracting a commodity at the lowest cost and selling at highest profits. Business processes for mining include physical design methods, scheduling collections, expelling and removal of waste materials from the pit. In the United States, there are several open pit-mining projects in operation, extracting daily to support three levels of economics; local, country and global, with commodities worth billions of dollars.

Utah, Bingham Canyon

Bingham Canyon or Kennecott Copper mine is located near Salt Lake City, Utah. Bingham Canyon Mine supplies 18 percent of the United States' refined copper, making it the second-largest copper producer with substantial amounts of gold, silver and sulphuric acid as byproducts. Reserves are estimated to last until 2020 with additional mineral resources potentially extending open pit mining in the area until to 2032. Economic impacts during 2011 show copper trading prices falling and gold increasing.

Wyoming, North Antelope Mine

Located southeast of Gillette, Wyoming, North Antelope Mine is the world's largest surface-strip operation, producing sulfur coal and employing truck-and-shovel fleets. Over 1,000 people are employed with wages and benefits feeding into the local economy, exceeding $60 million dollars annually. Not only is it one of the best economic impacts locally, but the North Antelope Mine sits in the middle of coal, methane coalbeds and oil-rich basins, claiming the title of "Energy Capital of the Nation."

Alaska, Fort Knox Mine

The largest gold-producing area in Alaska hosts the Fort Knox Mine expansion project, which received a life extension from 2012 to 2018. The project mine will produce over 3 million gold ounces, resulting in an average of over 300,000 gold ounces per year, employing over 400 employees and operating 365 days a year. Plans include a gold extraction plant using leaching to produce another 30,000 gold ounces per day.

Alaska, Red Dog Mine

Red Dog Mine is one of the world's largest zinc mines developed under an agreement with the NANA Regional Corporation Inc., a native Alaskan development corporation. This mine produces zinc and lead concentrates with the highest indigenous hire percentages in the world, who are also NANA shareholders. Red Dog Mine is holding over 50 million tons of reserves of zinc and lead, ensuring economic impacts across the state with over $100 million dollars in annual compensations.

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