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The Atacama Desert of northern Chile has minimal vegetation. But it has ample mineral wealth: large amounts of copper, gold, silver, and other industrial metals. This includes the world’s largest open pit copper mine and the second deepest open pit—the Chuquicamata Mine.

In operation since 1910, the largest open pit at the mine measures 1 kilometer deep, 3 kilometers wide, and 5 kilometers long. New York City’s Central Park could fit inside it.

Evidence shows that copper has been extracted in the region for centuries. Indigenous people worked the copper deposits in pre-Hispanic times to make weapons and tools. The mine now produces 650,000 metric tons of copper annually.

Imagery

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Jan. 9, 1988, Landsat 5 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Dec. 17, 1999, Landsat 7 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Jan. 21, 2010, Landsat 5 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Dec. 23, 2016, Landsat 8 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Jan. 27, 2018, Landsat 8 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Jan. 1, 2020, Landsat 8 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Jan. 6, 2022, Landsat 8 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile
Jan. 12, 2024, Landsat 8 (path/row 1/75) — Chuquicamata Mine, Chile

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