Originally mined by Native Americans and later by Spaniards, Chino’s open-pit mine began production in 1910. It was one of the first open-pit copper mines in the world. The Chino Mine’s operations, the largest in New Mexico, includes two facilities; one produces copper and molybdenum concentrates, the other produces copper cathode through a solution extraction and electrowinning (SX/EW) process.
In 2014, the Chino Mine produced 250 million pounds of copper. Even as the Chino Mine continues to produce copper, reclamation is underway at inactive tailing impoundments.
2,550 acres of inactive tailings have been contoured, capped and seeded for wildlife habitat at Chino through early 2015. The active tailings impoundment will be reclaimed when the concentrator operation ends. Most of the work to reclaim perimeter stockpiles at Chino will also take place when the leaching operation is complete. Currently process water is recycled during the copper SX/EW and concentrating processes. When production ends, impacted water will be treated to meet standards for future use.
Hurley Processing Facilities
In addition to reclamation of tailings impoundments, rock stockpiles and smaller historic mine sites, reclamation also means removing mining-related facilities that are no longer used. In Hurley, the former concentrator that operated from the early 1900s to 1981 and the Chino Smelter that operated from 1939-2002 have been successfully reclaimed. After the concentrator and smelter were demolished and copper-containing materials removed and recycled, the ground was capped with a suitable growth media and successfully reseeded.