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“Really Unique Tour”

Asarco Mineral Discovery Center
Ranked #2 of 6 things to do in Sahuarita
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Opened in February of 1997, the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center (AMDC) is designed to convey the vital importance of mining in our civilization. Everything that we use everyday was somehow extracted from the earth — either by farming or by mining, and “if it can’t be grown, it has to be mined.”Located 20-minutes south of Tucson, AMDC has an exhibit center, theater and gift shop. For a nominal fee, tours are conducted of Asarco's Mission Mine; an active open-pit copper mine. Tour schedule is subject to change, reservations are recommended.
Newport News, Virginia, United States
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Really Unique Tour”
Reviewed October 1, 2013 via mobile

My wife and I both love industrial tours, but it seems that fewer companies want to offer them these days. Liability, whatever. So we salute Asarco for offering this tour! Here the tour goes right into the heart of the operation, and the guides really know their stuff.

The scale of the mine is astounding. I could have lingered at the overlook into the pit to watch for much longer if only time allowed. The only thing cooler would have been to be present when they blast another big chunk of rock loose, which happens once a day.

As for environmental impact, sure, there is a huge hole and a collosal mountain of waste. But the mine doesn't seem to really hurt anything other than one's esthetics - no smoke, no dirty water. It does displace wildlife, but then the sprawl of greater Tucson does so to a much greater degree. Plus, in a few more decades, the mine will close and nature will start to reclaim the site. So let your conscience be eased and enjoy the monster trucks.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank Pax G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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112 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
282 reviews
118 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 136 helpful votes
“Fascinating and Educational”
Reviewed September 23, 2013

I've been critical of mining (open pit especially) due to the environmental impact, but I had never been to an open pit mine. I love industrial tours. So when we were in the area and had an opportunity to visit the mine and take a tour, I was all over it. The tour runs in a small bus and takes about an hour. It was fascinating from start to finish. There were only four of us on the tour so we had ample time to ask questions of our guide (a retired employee), and every question was answered in detail. Seeing the massive scale of the open pits, and the piles of tailings that go on for miles did not make me any less critical of mining, but now I am a more informed critic :) And I accept that I use copper, so unless I come up with a better way to get it out of the ground, I need to temper my judgement.

The processing facility where copper is extracted from crushed rock was the best part. The methodology is a simple concept but they have applied advanced engineering to the process to make it cost effective. I was amazed to learn that the copper content of the rock is less than 1% and yet it is still cost effective to mine it at this location.

The shop at the visitor center has a lot of crafts made from copper and stone. The museum portion has short videos describing what you will see on the tour, plus some of the processing steps that occur at other locations. Highly recommend for anyone interested in mining, geology, industrial processes, or engineering.

Visited August 2013
2 Thank jameskul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed August 11, 2013

My husband works at the mine and when we take friends or family on this tour they are very open to my husband giving more accurate details of the mine. The guides are great people.

Visited February 2013
1 Thank StaceyLynnArizona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zaltbommel, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
277 reviews
178 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 199 helpful votes
“Industrial, working mine”
Reviewed June 13, 2013

We were here late in the afternoon and had two wait more than one hour to get the tour. We are so happy now we did the wait ! The surrounding area of the reception building has some older and modern mining equiptment to show. Within the building was a shop and a small exhibition area. It also had a video showing area and different small informative movies were shown there. Than the tourguide picked us up and took us to the airconditioned bus. In the bus he explained the tour to us and mainwhile we were driven up to the current running mining area. The pit was - enormous, deeper than the highest skyscraper, wider than our eyes could see. The big machineries were like ants on a mountain ! Impressive. Than we were taken to the mill. Very informative and surprisingly quiet and clean. We had a great time asking the tourguide and busdrives about everything and anything. We were lucky that the other couple had the same interests as we have so that was really great. The tour is great and something different than other mines because it's a running mine and a modern mine.

Visited May 2013
2 Thank Dutchkathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Green Valley, AZ
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“A Great Museum to Learn About Open Pit Mining.”
Reviewed June 3, 2013

You get to see it all at a working open pit mine with retired employees acting as docents. Old and new equipment give you and idea of the huge scale of the operation. If you are interested in mining this is a don't miss attraction.

1 Thank HapGreenValley_AZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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