Escondida Mine, Chile
The Escondida copper, gold and silver open-pit mine in Chile's Atacama Desert is seen in this image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER. The mine is at an elevation of 3050 meters, or about 10,000 feet, and began operations in 1990. Current capacity is 127,000 tons per day of ore; in 1999 production totaled 827,000 tons of copper, 150,000 ounces of gold, and 3.53 million ounces of silver.
The top image is a visible and infared composite. The bottom image displays shortwave infrared bands and highlights the different rock types present on the surface, as well as the changes caused by mining.
Image credit: NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
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