The Richest Hole On EarthThe Richest Hole On EarthSixty million years ago a magnificent explosion deep within the earth blasted through the area’s sedimentary layers to the surface. The lava filled the fissures and cracks in the stone and created a plug of molten rock. Starting in 1848,the resultant veins of metal were mined for gold, silver, copper and molybdenite. The copper mine at Bingham Canyon is known as one of the world’s deepest, biggest, and deadliest open pit mines in the world. It was purchased by the Rio Tinto Group from Kennecott Copper in 1989. It is visible with the naked eye from space and is the largest man made excavation in the world. It is 2 3/4 miles across and 3/4 mile deep.
36" x 48"
Oil and Impasto on Canvas
The SmelterThe SmelterAt the smelter, copper concentrate is transformed into liquid copper through a flash smelting process. The copper matte is processed in the furnace and produces 98.6 percent blister copper. After that, the 720 pound copper plates, called anodes, are sent to the refinery where they are lowered into electrolytic cells containing an acidic solution and stainless steel blank. An electric current is sent between the anode and cathode causing copper ions to migrate to the steel sheet. Gold and silver fall into the bottom of the cell where they are recovered in the precious metals plant. This process creates a plate of 99.99 percent pure copper.
48" x 36"
Oil, Gold Leaf, Copper Leaf, Powdered Pigment, on Canvas
Haulage RoadsHaulage RoadsIf you stretched out all the roads in the open pit mine—almost 500 miles of roadway—they would reach to Denver. There are about 70 gigantic haulage trucks that carry between 255 - 320 tons of material in a single trip.
48" x 48"
Oil, Impasto, Copper Leaf on Canvas
The PondThe PondThe collected pool of water at the bottom of the copper mine is the most striking color element in the pit due to its acid rock drainage.
48" x 48"
Oil, Powdered Pigment, Copper Leaf on Canvas
The SlideThe SlideThe slide at the Bingham Canyon Mine occurred at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. It registered magnitude 2.4 on seismograph. About two thirds of the bottom of the pit was buried. About 65 - 70 million cubic meters of dirt and rock thundered down the side of the pit. Probably the largest event in the mine’s history.
48" x 48"
Oil, Powdered Pigment, Copper Leaf, Impasto, on Canvas
I have been presently working on a series of oil and mixed media pieces of the Rio Tinto (formerly Bingham Canyon, Kennecott Copper) Mine. I have been passionate about this project for several reasons.
I am fascinated by its beauty. The landslide in 2013 lent a particular fascination.
Other artists have also been captivated with the colors and geography there from its inception in 1906. Robert Smithson, who unfortunately died in a plane crash before his preliminary sketch of a massive work was accepted by Kennecott, and Jean Arnold, whose “Civilization” painting depicts that the mine suggests a giant beehive shaped Jello mold are just a couple of memorable examples. Recently, there was an amazing exhibit of the mine and its history and attraction to artists at the UMFA on the University of Utah campus.
I have a personal history with the mine. It employed my father when I was born, my beloved maternal grandfather, and my own husband. Some of the best stories they tell and many consequent visits to the mine and what used to be the town of “Bingham”. Many references as in “Copperview Elementary” where I attended grade school.
The rich cultural and economic history of the mine is an inherent part of Utah’s heritage and thus of everyone who calls Utah home. Its beauty is incomparable and immense, at times controversial but always magnificent.