Like many towns located across Arizona, Superior has a rich history of indigenous peoples who have lived in this area since time immemorial. Ancient Arizonans mined minerals, crystals and metals like copper and silver. Their descendants currently include 22 federally recognized Native Nations in Arizona with almost a quarter of the state designated as reservation land. Spanish mining began in the late 18th century and began to proliferate in an area known as the Copper Corridor of south-central Arizona. This Corridor consists of 11 major current and former mining communities.
Mining became a dominant industry and source of employment around the town of Superior in the Copper Corridor beginning in 1875. But there were boom and bust periods of significant economic impact here. First came the Silver Queen Mine, then the Magma Mine. After silver deposits were depleted, copper became king up until the 1980’s, when the Magma Mine closed.
Newer ways of deep mining copper and an increasing demand for electrical energy production, distribution and storage, as well as other uses, resulted in further exploration of the region. The discovery of a major copper reserve, near Superior prompted further research to determine how best to extricate the ore body where it lies, between 5,000 and 7,000 feet below the earth’s surface.
Hence the start of Resolution Copper, which is a joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (55%) and BHP (45%). The ore deposit represents one of the most significant untapped copper deposits today. This proposed mine, 60 miles east of Phoenix, Arizona, is expected to become the largest copper mine in North America with the potential to supply nearly 25% of U.S. copper demand.
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Superior, located in the heart of Arizona’s Copper Corridor,, is a go-to location for enthusiasts who revel in the outdoors—scenic trails, forests, and mountains; and activities like hiking, biking, and ziplining. There’s an opportunity to explore its rich mining history; visit the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, a world-famous botanical garden; and explore local arts and culture.