Are your pennies worth billions?

High demand for copper is driving miners deeper

You keep your gold safe. But what about your copper? The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that copper theft- and the fallout- costs businesses nearly a billion dollar a year. Demand is so high, thieves can sell it for a pretty penny. The largest copper mine in the U.S. closed in 1996- but then geologists found an enormous deposit much deeper.

Knowing it’s there in Superior, Arizona is the easy part. It’s so deep they still haven’t reached it. The ore is over a mile under the surface. Getting to the bottom requires traveling down five hundred feet per minute for close to 15 minutes. The shaft runs through an aquifer towards the bottom and it’s so hot that it begins to rain underground. To make conditions suitable to extract the copper, two huge pumps- and miles of pipe- pull the water out of the mine and send it to nearby farms, while fans pump chilled air into the shaft.

So far Resolution Copper has invested 1.2 billion dollars. And in the next two years, they’ll invest another billion. They estimate that by 2020 the mine will produce a quarter of the nation’s copper, extracting over a billion pounds per year.

Sounds like those copper thieves have been wasting their time stealing wire. They should just head to Arizona where the copper flows like burning hot water through a dark and narrow pipe!


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