The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is offering a rare chance to visit the abandoned Nacimiento Copper Mine 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 12, near Cuba, N.M.
The trip, led by local geology expert Patrick Rowe, will be fun and hands-on for both adults and children. Participants will start at the nature center, carpool to the side, and explore the area, with ample chances to find beautiful specimens such as petrified wood.
This popular tour will fill up fast, so it is recommended to register in advance at www.peecnature.org.
In addition to the petrified wood specimens, which are regularly covered with exquisite green malachite and blue azurite, trip participants can find “red-bed” septarian nodules (also known as Dragon Stones) that contain calcite crystals in the centers, as well as azurite balls “blue berries” and rosettes.
Often deer and elk are spotted in the area, as well as some resident cows.
Larry Gore, a geologist for the Santa Fe Forest Service, will give the group a talk on the mine’s geology and history, and efforts to remediate the abandoned mine.
The Nacimiento Mine was originally mined between 1881 and the early 1900s. Natives of the area say that copper was first mined and smelted by the Conquistadores, who used Indian slaves
to extract ore and coal locally.
Mining was sporadic at the site until the late 1960s, and in the late 60s and early 70s ore was removed using open pit mining techniques. This operation ceased in 1975.
In 1984, Leaching Technology, Inc. started developing in-situ leaching at the site, whereby acid was injected into the ore bearing zone, until in-situ leaching was determined to be uneconomical.
The USDA Forest Service began using cutting edge technology in 2007 to remediate the underground water at the site. The inevitability of finding samples makes this is an excellent field trip for kids and adults alike!
The group will meet at PEEC just before 8 a.m. and will car pool through the Jemez Mountains to get to the mine. Those living in Santa Fe or Albuquerque can alternatively meet the group at 10 a.m. at the entrance to the mine.