Open pit copper mine in Butte
F u Richest hole on earth -- a. 1 J i THE VIEW-OF 4heBerke!ey PI from the public viewing stand at the top of Anaconda Road offers Butte residents as well as tourists a chance to see the Inner workings of the mammoth open pit copper mine. The 100 and 150-ton trucks and huge shovels which load them look like toys from the stand, but the view tsrexcellent. The stand Is open to all wishing to use It at anytime. There are no guides and no reservations needed. (Staff photo) Mines pass century mark Mining began 113 years ago who had left Virginia City for City, was given a share and in the Butte area, relatively brighter fields. They named became superintendent. He latjt in the gold rush period, the creek and the town that sold the Alice and bought an in- "but unlike most sold rush Ere US afdiind il SUVeY BOW. " terest to the Anaconda claim town, the lode has never run One of the original group, from Michael Hickey and out William Allison, and a friend, Gold was discovered in a CO. Humphreys, discovered straggling stream southwest gold that July on the brow of a of what is now Butte in the spr- barren hill at the north end of ing of 1864 by six prospectors the unhabited valley. They returned to Virginia uty with a poke full of gold dust to buy more provisions. The Virginia City druggist. Dr. Waroick, who assayed the ore became excited and news spread quickjy. Miners have own holiday Juneli is a holiday unique to Riitte It in Miner's Union nav The first miners meeting a -wam !" Montana was held on Hope Hill prospectors were seething Charles Larabie, and it was here the rich vein of copper was discovered in 1882. Daly's backers, a group of Califor-nians including George Hearst, weredisappointed that copper, and not silver, bad been found. But Daly, a mining genious, recognized copper would be in demand during the dawning electrical age and that he sat on a mountain of the precious metal. His outside Philipsburg in the 1860s, when miners united to ask for higher wages. But the first actual union' was The Butte Miners Union Local No. 1, founded June IS, 1878, with Aaron Witter as the first .president. The anniversary of its founding was celebrated every year with a parade and other festivities in mining communities around the state. The holiday of 1914 was a real blow-out In Butte, with the Miners TJnion building over the slope. The peak, or butte, was used as a landmark and eventually became the name of the camp. Placer mining in .the Butte district yielded about 11.5 mil- The Mineral Museum at Montana Tech is open daily lion within three years after from 8-5 through Labor. Day, the Humphrey-Allison dis- and is free, covery. The collection began in 1900 The placers began running with the purchase of 130 out, but it was about this time specimens, and has grown quarts veins rich in silver '.largely .through donations to were located west of the city, more than 10,000 specimens The richest of these was the valued in excess of $250,000. W.Lr Farlin claim, filed as the Due to space, however, only Asteroid in 1866 and as the about 1,300 specimens are dis- literally blown up by opposing Travoma in ws. Miusana sm- piayea a nine. ne coiiec- g Off BMOthS Of S"fh bin wuc a uua wi iwawu icguiaiij. factions, setting labor strife. Although it has declined" in importance over the years and there is no longer a general community celebration, June 13 still is an official holiday for miners, - . - - - . future became more certain. The museum has minerals It was incorporated in 1878. from throughout the world, in- Marcus Daly, an Irish im- eluding the spectacular South migrant who arrived In 1876 American amethyst collection from Utah and Nevada, bought- of Copper King W.A. Clark, the Alice Mine here for the and some archaeological ar-Walker Brothers of Salt Lake tifacts. The Berkeley Pit at Butte, the largest truck-operated open pit copper mine in the United States, is sometimes called the most productive three square miles in "Montana. Started in 1955, the pit now accounts for more than 80 per cent of the total copper production from this famous mining district. As it increased production, the tin-' derground mines gradually were phased out and the last deep-vein ore operations ceased in late 1975. The pit has taken away a large portion of the hill that earned the nickname of "The Richest Hill on Earth" however, it has produced more than 230 million tons of copper .ore at the rate of about 50,000 tons per day from 190,000 tons of earth. The billionth ton of material was removed in November 1976. Enough blasting is done each day to keep the mine's electric shovels busy filling huge 60-to-100-ton ore-hauling trucks. Ore containing higher percentages of copper is taken . to the. Clyde E. Weed Concentrator near the Pit where it is crushed to the size of walnuts, ground to powder and concentrated. The concentrate is shipped to the smelter in Anaconda by company railroad. Copper-bearing solutions ex-tracted from waste material in leach dumps are sent to the precipitation plant, where scrap iron cones collect the on. This precipitate also, is sent to the smelter. The Anaconda Co. offices, mine, concentrator and smelter operations employ a total of 4,500 persons. The firm, which played a large part in Montana history, now is a sub sidiary of Atlantic Richfield and 'is the largest employer. properties later became the taxpayer and consumer in the giant Anaconda Co. state. i Minerals display free There are a number of cases arranged according to the Hey classification, which gives a different number to each mineral based on its chemical composition. A display of fluorescent minerals is exhibited in a separate room under ultraviolet lights. There are exhibits of Butte and Montana minerals as well. The museum is on the second floor of the Library Museum Building, situated at the southeast corner of the Tech campus. Guided tours can oe af-ranged by contacting the Montana Bureau of Mines at Tech, 792-8321.