The famed open-pit copper mines of eastern Nevada’s Robinson Mining District, including the Liberty Pit (largest in the state) are located between Ely and Ruth just south of Highway 50. Through the first half of the 20th century, this area produced nearly a billion dollars in copper, gold and silver. The huge mounds visible from the highway are waste rock that was removed to uncover the ore.
The Robinson District was named for one of the people who found the area, Thomas Robinson, in 1869.
The “Elijah” mine near Lane City (between Ely and Ruth) was the first mine discovered in the Robinson Mining District.
Early settlements in this area were located in an area called Copper Flat and included the towns of Copper Flat, Kimberly, Ruth, Reipetown and Veteran. Most of these original towns were moved several times as the mining operations moved around the area. Many of the houses in Ely and White Pine County came from “Old” Ruth.
The Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. began underground mining in 1904. By 1907, steam shovels began stripping the overburden (unuseable ore) above the Eureka mine. The underground mine closed in 1914.
Kennecott Copper Corporation acquired full ownership in 1958 and replaced the 14 miles of railroad tracks and trains in the pit with trucks. Magma Nevada Mining, Co. purchased the property in 1991 and BHP merged with Magma in 1996. BHP ceased operations in 1999. Quadra Mining Ltd. purchased the mine from BHP Billiton in April 2004, and immediately recommenced operations, reaching full production in October 2004 more than two months ahead of schedule and following capital upgrades to the process plant facility. The mine mobile equipment had been reassigned to another BHP Billiton project and was replaced with new equipment.
The current mine infrastructure consists three large open pits; Liberty (previously mined out by BHP Copper), Tripp-Veteran, and Ruth, a conventional process plant with SAG and ball mill grinding followed by floatation. A molybdenum recovery circuit was constructed by Quadra and entered operations in December 2005.
Robinson has operated continuously since 2005 producing on average, 121 to 126 million pounds per year of copper. In 2006, mining transitioned from the Tripp to the Veteran pit and the mine produced 121.4 million pounds of copper, 75,074 ounces of gold and 260,000 pounds of molybdenum. In 2007, the mine produced 131.9 million pounds of copper and approximately 108,000 ounces of gold and production for 2008 was a historical record for the mine for both copper and gold. Robinson produced 159.7 million pounds of copper in 2008 and 137,628 ounces of gold.
The reserves at Robinson as of January 1st 2008 were 103 Mt containing 0.68% copper and 0.23 g/t gold.
Ruth Historic Marker.
Ely Interpretive Site.
Quadra Ltd. Website