Chile’s Chuquicamata mine is the world’s largest open pit copper mine. The scale of the operation and the volume of the excavation boggle the mind. And in order to get the job done, mammoth trucks are used.
First, the numbers behind the mine:
- The pit is 5 km long, 3 km wide, and 1 km deep.*
- 600,000 tons of rock are excavated every day.
- 1,500 tons of copper are extracted from the 600,000 tons of rock.
- The mine operates 24 hours per day.
- 22% of the copper goes to China.
Approximately 110 trucks haul the rocks 10 km from the bottom of the pit to the top of the pit. Although several brands of haul trucks are used at the mine, most of them appear to be Komatsus. They can carry up to 400 tons and burn three liters of fuel per minute. The mining concern is considering replacing the fleet of trucks with a conveyor belt given the cost of fuel.
This picture best captures the size of these monsters. All of the support trucks are red and are between the size of a Ford Ranger and Toyota Tundra. Look how tiny they are!
*For those of you in the non-metric nations of Liberia, Myanmar, and the U.S., that’s a big-ass hole.
Images source: Jim Yu
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