Braun, T & Parker, J 2006, 'Case Study at BHP Copper Inc. Copper Mine and Smelter, San Manuel, Arizona', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 211-220, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/605_13
After more than 50 years of activity, BHP Copper Inc. (BHP) suspended operation of the San Manuel Mine
and Plant Sites on June 25, 1999. The former San Manuel Operation (SMO) includes approximately 9300
hectares and is located in southern Pinal County in the State of Arizona, USA (Figure 1). At the time of the
suspension announcement, SMO employed in excess of 2600 people (direct) and provided the majority of
community services for the company-founded town of San Manuel located adjacent to the integrated mill,
smelter and refinery facility. Final closure of the Mine and Plant areas was announced in January 2002 and
October 2003, respectively. This paper examines the process of decommissioning and the application of
BHP Billiton’s Sustainable Development Policy (Policy). The Policy objective is to create sustainable value
for our shareholders, employees, contractors, suppliers, customers, business partners and host communities.
BHP Billiton’s sustainable development principles are designed to ensure that business units remain viable
and contribute lasting benefits to society through the consideration of social, environmental, ethical and
economic aspects of an ongoing or proposed activity (BHP Billiton 2005). For San Manuel, these principals
applied to a large-scale facility entering final decommissioning and closure. The Policy ensured that BHP did
not compromise safety values, identified and managed risk and met or, in some cases exceeded applicable
legal and other requirements.
Arizona Daily Star (2006) Razing a Mine to Raise Homes, Town’s Future Holds Houses by the Thousands, 19 February
BHP Billiton (2005) Contributing to Sustainable Development at BHP Billiton, Policy Guide. September 2005.
Central Arizona Association of Governments (2000) Strategic Framework for Economic Adjustment and Long-Term
Sustainability in the San Manuel Region, September.
Coffman Associates, Inc. (2003) Airport Master Plan, Final Technical Report for the San Manuel Airport, Pinal County,
Arizona, 12 November 2003.
Hydrologic Consultants (2001) Pinal County Comprehensive Plan, Area 4-B Water Resources.
Parker, J. and Braun, T. (2006) Closure at the San Manuel Mine Site, Arizona, Mining Engineering Magazine, March.
Pinal County (2004a) Enterprise Zone Program, Annual Report – 1 July to 30 June 2004.
Pinal County (2004b) Comprehensive Development Plan, Amended 1 December 2004.
Case Study at BHP Copper Inc. Copper Mine and Smelter, San Manuel, Arizona T. Braun, J. Parker
220 Mine Closure 2006, Perth, Australia