While copper seems less glamorous than gold, it may be far more important, as it was vital to the industrial revolution and indispensable for electrification. Kennecott Copper Corporation, at one time the largest producer of copper in the world, played a key role in economic and industrial development. This book recounts how Kennecott was formed from the merger of three mining operations (one in Alaska, one in Utah, and one in Chile), how it led the way in mining technologies, and how it was in turn affected by the economy and politics of the day.
As it traces the story of the three mines, the narrative follows four mining engineers-Stephen Birch, Daniel Cowan Jackling, William Burford Braden, and E. Toppan Stannard-self-made men whose technological ingenuity was responsible for much of Kennecott's success. While Jackling developed economies of scale for massive open-pit mining in Utah, Braden went underground in Chile for a copper-caving operation of unprecedented scale. Meanwhile, Birch and Stannard overcame the extreme challenges of mining rich ore in the difficult climate of Alaska and transporting it to market. The Guggenheims, who brought these three operations together, provided the funding without which the infrastructure necessary for the mining operations might not have been built.
As a geologist with first-hand knowledge of mining, author Charles Hawley describes the technology behind the Kennecott story in a way that both specialists and the general reader will appreciate. He places Kennecott and the copper industry within their historical context and allows the reader to consider the controversial aspects of mineral discovery and sustainability.
Charles Caldwell Hawley has had a long career as a geologist. After working for the USGS, he moved to the private sector, eventually forming his own consultant company for the mining industry. Hawley has served on national and state land-use advisory councils and today is director of three public mining companies. He is the author of the book Wesley Earl Dunkle, Alaska's Flying Miner.