Copper & Silver Mining in Globe & Miami

Copper & Silver Mining in Globe & Miami
Globe and Miami are two classic western mining towns located in Gila County, Arizona. The towns have a rich history of mineral exploration and mining activities still continue even to this day. Although the towns have in the past produced silver, they are currently known for their rich deposits of copper. In this post, we look at the state of mining in these two towns including a brief history of how it all started. But first, let’s give you a background.


Background of Globe and Miami


As noted above, Globe and Miami are located in central Arizona. They are sparsely populated remote towns too. According to the 2010 US census, Globe had a population of slightly above 7,500 people while Miami had a population of 1837 people. Much of the local economy is based around the mines.

Globe was founded in 1871 as a mining camp when prospectors discovered massive silver deposits there. However, mining activities in the town did not last long for two reasons. The silver deposits were depleted rather quickly, but more importantly were the copper deposits in Miami.

Eventually, the largest silver mining company in Globe closed operation and moved to Miami to pursue the exploration of copper. It is often believed the quick development of Miami as a mining town wouldn’t have been possible without Globe. This is why these two small Arizonian town are often discussed concurrently, especially when mining is concerned.

Additionally, it is important to note that the town of Miami was officially discovered in 1907, almost 4 decades after Globe was on the map. The town also significantly benefited from the arrival of the railroad in 1909.


The History of Mining in Globe and Miami


Mining activities around the Globe and Miami region began in the 1870s. It is in fact believed that the name Globe City came from a large silver spherical nugget that was discovered by prospectors in the town. Silver was the key mineral at the time and mining took-off properly in 1873.

Mining rights at the time were owned by the Old Dominion Copper Company. However, it became clear that the silver deposits in the region were starting to dwindle. Additionally, the price of silver during this period had started to collapse. But on the flipside, the price of copper was on the rise. As a result, the Old Dominion Copper Company moved to nearby Miami to begin the exploration of copper, which had just been discovered in the town.

Silver mining in Globe continued until 1931 though albeit the attention was on Miami.


The Copper Rush in Miami


After the discovery of Copper in Miami, there was an influx of mining investment into the town. Copper mines did not become operational until 1911 after the establishment of the Inspiration Mine. During this period, all the copper in Miami was mined underground. After the Second World War, the first open pit mines opened.

The arrival of the railroad also helped to intensify mining activities in the region as freight costs dropped significantly. Miami was also quite ahead of its time as far as mining technology goes. For instance, it was the first mining town to adopt froth flotation technology in processing copper ore. The copper mines of Miami were also the first ones in the US to adopt vat leaching and precipitation plants to recover oxide minerals. These technologies are still widely used in mining today.

Nonetheless, the copper deposits in the town were massive and mining activities continued for decades. In 1974, the smelters in the town were modernized to meet the Clean Air Act standards before they were expanded in 1992 to accommodate increasing mineral production.

Gold Mining in the Arizona Desert


The State of Mining in Globe and Miami Today


The mining industry still remains integral in the economies of Globe and Miami. Copper mining was suspended at the Inspiration Mine in 2015. Although mining activities are expected to continue soon, it is largely expected that copper processing is going to decline over the coming years.

Despite this, Globe and Miami still remain some of the biggest producers of copper in the United States. For instance, it is estimated that copper smelters in Miami produced nearly 25 million pounds of ore in 2016. Although this figure declined to 19 million pounds a year later in 2017, it is still a substantial amount.

Additionally, even with the declining reserves in the Inspiration Mine, there is no doubt that Globe and Miami will remain integral mining regions in the US. This is because the Pinto Valley mine, a massive copper mine operated by the San Manuel Arizona Railroad, is located nearby. It is estimated that current copper ore reserves in the mine could easily top 446 million tons. Globe and Miami are also using their strong mining heritage to attract tourists in the region. In 1987, Globe’s historic downtown district was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is worth a visit.

Next: Early History of Jerome, AZ