PEEC Daytrip Explores Nacimiento Mine Oct. 29

Exploring the tailings of Nacimiento Copper Mine is fun for all ages. Photo by Minesh Bacrania

PEEC News:

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is offering a rare chance to visit the abandoned Nacimiento Copper Mine Oct. 29 near Cuba.

The trip, led by local geology expert Patrick Rowe, will be fun and hands-on for both adults and children. Participants will explore the area, with ample chances to find beautiful specimens such as petrified wood.

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.

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 group will meet before 8 a.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road and 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.

The inevitability of finding samples makes this is an excellent field trip for kids and adults alike.

The cost is $10 person or $20 family for non-members; PEEC members pay $8 person or $16 family. Advance registration is highly recommended. To register, visit, email or call 505.662.0460.

PEEC was founded in 2000 to serve the community of Los Alamos. It offers people of all ages a way to enrich their lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains, and skies. PEEC maintains a nature center, holds regular programs and events, and hosts a number of interest groups from birding to hiking to butterfly watching. PEEC activities are open to everyone; however, members receive exclusive benefits such as discounts on programs and merchandise. Annual memberships start at $20. To learn more, visit

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