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The Art of JAMA
September 17, 2014

Bingham Mine: Jonas Lie

JAMA. 2014;312(11):1080-1081. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279727

The Bingham Canyon Mine, near Salt Lake City, Utah, is the largest excavation in the world. Since 1906 it has produced millions of tons of copper and a fortune in gold, silver, and molybdenum, but it has also contaminated local ecosystems with lead and arsenic; to keep the mine open its managers have agreed to clean up the mess. In the early years of mining in Bingham Canyon, the environmental hazards of open-pit extraction were unforeseen. The sole challenge was to scoop out the mine’s ore as efficiently as possible, an operation that supported thousands of workers and their families who lived in communities built into the canyon walls.