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As part of the mining, huge amounts of material are dug up and removed. The ore is crushed within the pit, and conveyors bring the ore to the mill.

New pits open up as the time series of Landsat images progresses. Landsat shows not only the expansion of the mining pits but also the extent of the material piled up alongside the pits.

The shifting shape of gray and blue on the right is the Talabre tailings impoundment. The Talabre is a natural depression, and the tailings, the materials left over after the ore is extracted, are dumped into several basins. The basins are separated with dikes, and the impoundment is bordered by dams, all made with dry tailings.

An underground mining operation is now underway. Testing indicates that 2.3 billion tons of copper ore lie below the open pit. Underground mining began operations in 2019.

Imagery

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

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