Kennecott Ray Mines Division
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This page last updated on July 31, 2016.
Kennecott Copper's Ray Mines Division, which included the copper mine at Ray, and the smelter at Hayden, was located about 100 miles southeast of Phoenix and about 50 miles northeast of Tucson, Arizona.
The Ray Copper Mines Company was organized in 1899 by British interests to develop the copper ore at Ray, Arizona. In 1910, the Ray mine was purchased by Ray Consolidated Copper Company.
In 1924, Ray Consolidated Copper Company merged with Chino Copper Company, and acquired the physical assets of the Chino company in New Mexico, including the Santa Rita mine and the Hurley smelter. In 1926, Nevada Consolidated Copper Company acquired the physical assets of Ray Consolidated Copper, including the Ray mine and the Chino mine in New Mexico. In 1933, the physical assets of Nevada Consolidated were acquired by the Kennecott Copper Corporation, and Kennecott organized the Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation to serve as the operating company for the Nevada, Chino, and Ray properties.
After 1924, the Ray and Chino properties were managed as a single company, with one general manager, W. S. Boyd. In 1926, Boyd became general manager of all three properties (Chino, Ray, and Nevada) when they were put under single management. In 1930, he became vice-president of Nevada Consolidated and continued in operating charge of the three properties. In 1933, he became vice-president of Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation when Kennecott organized the company to operate the three properties, and R. B. Tempest then became general manager of the three properties, until his death in May 1938.
On December 31, 1942, Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation was dissolved and on January 1, 1943 the Ray mine and Hayden smelter became the Ray Mines Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation.
The following comes from "Old Mines Die Hard" in the June 1954 issue of Kennescope, the Kennecott employee magazine:
Daniel C. Jackling's success in Utah started the search for similar large ore-bodies in Arizona. In 1906, his associates Philip Wiseman and Seeley Mudd obtained options at Ray, and in 1907 Mr. Jackling started extensive development work on the Ray property. Ray is about eighty miles east and slightly to the south of Phoenix in what is called the Mineral Creek Mining District.
The Ray Consolidated Copper Company was organized, and a thorough program of churn-drilling was undertaken. This was necessary to determine the amount and grade of ore it would be possible to mine on a large scale. About 50,000,000 tons of 2 per cent ore were blocked out, and Louis S. Cates was placed in charge of operations. Mr. Cates developed the mining system used at Ray which became the first copper mine in the world to produce 8000 tons or more of ore per day by caving methods.
The proposed concentrator would need a good source of water and a large tailings disposal area. It was decided to locate the mill near the junction of the Gila and San Pedro Rivers, where there was a broad valley as well as good water possibilities. An eight section mill was constructed, and production of copper started in 1911. The Ray and Gila Valley Railroad, a subsidiary of the Copper Company, was built from Ray to connect with the Arizona Eastern Railroad at Ray Junction, six miles away. From there the ore was hauled eighteen miles to the mill by the Arizona Eastern R.R. The Copper Company also had to construct three miles of track from the Arizona Eastern Railroad at Hayden Junction to the mill.
Ray started as an underground mine in 1911. During America's role in World War I, it averaged 86 million pounds of copper per year from 3-1/2 million tons of 1.62% copper ore (10,000 tons per day). Production from 1923 to 1929 inclusive, averaged 67-1/2 million pounds from three million tons annually and the ore contained 1.37%.
Production dropped to 30 million pounds in 1938 but under the stimulus of World War II, reached an all time high in 1942 of 100,703,000 pounds from 2,968,000 tons of ore averaging 1.73% copper. Production declined rapidly to a low of 32-1/2 million in 1946, 1,300,000 tons of ore averaging 1.24% copper.
Dwindling underground ore reserves resulted in the mining of marginal areas, where ground was heavy and development costs high. It became apparent in 1945, that if Ray was to continue it would not be as an underground mine. Investigations were begun with view of developing an open pit. Prospect drilling proved the existence of a considerable tonnage of low grade ore that could be mined by open pit methods.
A contract was entered into with the Isbell Construction Company of Reno, Nevada, to remove the surface waste in the proposed pit area. It was necessary to divert the waters of Copper Canyon around the edge of the proposed pit. This was done by midyear 1948, and by April 1, 1952, the Isbell contract ended after the removal from the pit of over 50-1/2 million tons of material, 6 million tons of which were ore.
From April 1, 1952 on, all pit mining operations have been done by Kennecott.
To date , the pit has produced 15 million tons of ore averaging 1.19% copper from which approximately 277 million pounds of copper have been recovered. It is expected by 1955 that underground operations will cease and the total tonnage from the underground mining will be approximately 78-1/2 million tons of ore averaging 1.53% copper. This tonnage yielded approximately one billion, 800 million pounds of copper.
The town of Hayden, Arizona, was founded in 1909 as a wholly owned entity of the Ray Consolidated Copper Company, part of the Guggenheim corporate group which also held the controlling interest in American Smelting & Refining Co. The town was located near the confluence of the Gila and San Pedro rivers. In 1912 the company completed construction of the Hayden smelter and began processing ore from the Ray underground copper mine, north and east of Hayden. Ray Consolidated was purchased by Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, and then by Kennecott Copper in 1933. Through this purchase Kennecott acquired ownership of the company town of Hayden. In 1958 Kennecott began operating a second smelter in Hayden, but it was closed in 1982.
During the early 1970s, the Ray Mines Division's rail operations consisted of the two GP39s being used as road power for the ore trains from the mine at Ray, nine miles to Ray Junction on the Southern Pacific. The Espee then took the ore trains, using its own power and crews, 23 miles south to Hayden Junction and then two miles to the mill at Hayden. The Southern Pacific then also furnished the power to switch the cars onto the car dumpers at the Hayden Smelter. The two small GEs and the Plymouth no. 882 were used as in-plant switchers at the concentrating mill. Plymouth no. 81 was used as the switcher at the Ray Mine. (see Trains for July 1956, p.27, and April 1971, p.15)
Railroads East of Phoenix
The first railroad in the area of Ray mine and the Hayden smelter was a company by the name of Phoenix & Eastern Railroad, which after 1901 was controlled by Santa Fe interests, and was part of a battle to control the railroads in southern Arizona. Arizona Eastern Railroad, a company organized in February 1904 and controlled by SP and the Harriman interests was part of the same battle.
The Phoenix & Eastern was organized in August 1901 as a continuation of Frank Morrill Murphy's plan for a railroad between Santa Fe's northern mainline and El Paso, with work starting at Phoenix in early 1902. At the same time, Harriman's Southern Pacific already had its original line across southern Arizona by way of Yuma and Tucson, completed in 1880. Expansion for SP north to Phoenix followed in 1886. Both AT&SF and SP expanded their interests in the area around Phoenix, with AT&SF's Phoenix & Eastern headed toward El Paso, with the side benefit of serving the growing mines in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Phoenix & Eastern started grading of their line in October 1902. Construction reached Florence, 65 miles southeast of Phoenix, in January 1904.
By that time, Harriman's SP became aware of competition encroaching on its territory and in February 1904 organized the Arizona Eastern Railroad to build along the same route along the north bank of the Gila River. Conflicting route maps were filed with the U.S. Land Office in Tucson in mid March 1904, covering each road's intended construction along the 18-mile route between Kelvin (later Ray Junction) and Winkelman (near Dudleyville). A court battle followed to determine the rights along the Gila River, with the Phoenix & Eastern completing its route and operating trains, pending a final legal decision. Floods came in March 1905, wiping out several locations in Gila Canyon, causing Phoenix & Eastern (and its Santa Fe affiliate) some legal problems because they could not operate trains, a major requirement of the on-going legal battle. Harriman's Arizona Eastern saw an opportunity and immediately built a new 0.77-mile segment that bypassed the washed-out trackage, and agreed to let Phoenix & Eastern operate its trains over this small but strategic piece of the contested route. On February 8, 1906, Phoenix & Eastern was approved by the Secretary of the Interior as the legal holder of construction and operating rights along the Gila River between Florence and Winkelman. The decision was immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the appeal saw no further action. On December 7, 1906, as part of the overall agreement to settle Santa Fe and Southern Pacific differences in Northern California, and in Arizona and New Mexico, Santa Fe agreed to sell control of the Phoenix & Eastern Railroad to Southern Pacific. Control of the Phoenix & Eastern passed to SP interests on March 13, 1907 (or on March 14, 1907; sources differ), and on March 10, 1910, the road was formally leased to Arizona Eastern Railroad for operation by this newly reorganized subsidiary of Southern Pacific.
Upon completion of construction, Phoenix & Eastern had been leased to Santa Fe on December 10, 1904, and was operated by Santa Fe subsidiary Santa Fe, Prescott & Phoenix Railway. On March 13, 1907, the Phoenix & Eastern became an operating subsidiary of the SP. On March 10, 1910, the Phoenix & Eastern was leased to SP and became a non-operating subsidiary, being operated by the Arizona Eastern Railroad. The Phoenix & Eastern was sold to the Arizona Eastern Railroad on October 31, 1945. On October 8, 1924, SP purchased full control of Arizona Eastern Railroad, and Arizona Eastern Railroad was merged into SP on September 30, 1955.
Phoenix & Eastern had completed its line between Phoenix and Florence (65 miles) in January 1904, and between Florence and Kelvin (28 miles) in July 1904, and the rails reached Winkelman (18 miles) in September 1904. With the completion of Ray & Gila Valley Railroad in 1910, the station at Kelvin was changed to Ray Junction.
(Sources include: "Railroads of Arizona, Volume II, Phoenix and the Central Roads," by David F. Myrick, 1980; "Historical Outline, Southern Pacific Company," March 1933, reprinted by Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society in 1995; "The Southern Pacific, 1901-1985," by Don L. Hofsomer, 1986) (see also: Wikipedia article about Copper Basin Railway)
(Please note that the above Arizona Eastern Railroad is not the same as the later and more recent Arizona Eastern Railroad (AZER) organized in 1988 by Kyle Railways to purchase the SP branch from Bowie to Globe, Arizona, east and north of the Ray mine complex. The more recent AZER was most recently purchased in September 2011 by GWI (Genessee & Wyoming Industries), which will operate the two former AZER lines, from Bowie to Globe, Arizona, and Lordsburg, New Mexico to Clifton, Arizona, and which are connected by trackage rights over UP between Lordsburg and Bowie.)
May 14, 1907
Ray Consolidated Copper Company was incorporated under the laws of Maine on May 14, 1907. The total mining lands at Ray, Arizona, consists of 2,145 acres of patented lands. Also owned is 4,324 acres at Hayden, Arizona, where the mill and smelter are located. Of this approximately 536 acres are leased to American Smelting & Refining Company as a site for a smelter. (Moody's Analysis Of Investments, Part II, Public Utilities and Industrials, 1917, page 1156)
Ray Consolidated Copper Company was organized to operate the copper mine at Ray, Arizona, originally developed by Ray Copper Company in 1883. The Ray copper mine was an underground mine.
June 14, 1910
The Ray & Gila Valley Railroad was organized in Arizona. All stock was owned by Ray Consolidated Copper Company. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Twenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 995)
The original railroad serving the Arizona copper mines that later became Kennecott's Ray Mines Division, was the Ray & Gila Valley Railroad, completed in October 1910. The railroad was in two segments. The first was just over 6.5 miles, running from the Ray mine to Ray Junction on the Southern Pacific. Copper ore trains were operated over the SP for about 12 miles from Ray Junction in the north, to Hayden Junction in the south. At Hayden Junction, the R&GV trains were again on their own rails, running about 2.5 miles to the Hayden smelter.
All inbound and outbound rail traffic to and from the Ray mine and the Hayden smelters was by way to SP's branch to Phoenix.
The first section of the mill at Hayden was placed in operation in March 1911, with another seven sections subsequently completed. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Twenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 995)
American Smelting & Refining Company purchased the partially completed smelter of Ray Consolidated Copper Company at Hayden, Arizona. Delivery of concentrates from Ray Consolidated to the smelter at Hayden commenced on February 12, 1912. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Twenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 995)
Ray Consolidated was shut down from April 8, 1921 to April 1, 1922.
Moody's Manual for 1922 reported that in 1921, Ray Consolidated Copper Company owned 1,971 acres of mineral land at Ray; 4,164 acres of milling and smelting lands at Hayden, including 527 acres leased to Asarco for irs smelter); and 127 acres of railroad lands at Ray Junction. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Twenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 995)
February 15, 1924
The stockholders of Ray Consolidated Copper Company and Chino Copper Company voted to approve a merger of their two companies, at 1-2/3 share of Ray for each share of Chino. (New York Times, February 16, 1924, "yesterday")
October 20, 1925
Nevada Consolidated Copper Company has made an offer to combine with Ray Consolidated Copper Company, which already owned and controlled Chino Copper Company. Directors of both companies had approved the merger, and special meetings of stockholders of both companies were planned for November 10, 1925. Both companies were controlled by Hayden, Stone & Company, and their associates. (New York Times, October 20, 1925)
Ray Consolidated Copper Company became part of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, both owned by the Guggenheim interests who also owned Kennecott Copper Company and Utah Copper Company.
February 3, 1933
Kennecott Copper Corporation owned 98-1/2 percent of Utah Copper Company. After the distribution of Nevada Consolidated Copper to Utah Copper stockholders (in other words, Kennecott) on or before February 14, 1933, Kennecott would own and control 87 percent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, which in-turn owned Ray Consolidated and Chino Copper. One year before, at the end of 1931, Utah Copper held 31 percent of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, February 5, 1933)
April 28, 1933
The board of directors of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company voted to accept Kennecott's offer to acquire all of the remaining shares of Nevada Consolidated, subject to a final vote by stockholders of Nevada Consolidated on June 1, 1933. (New York Times, April 29, 1933, "yesterday")
Kennecott closed its Ray mine due to low copper prices. (New York Times, December 19, 1936)
January 1, 1937
Kennecott reopened its Ray mine. The Chino mine (closed in October 1934) was reopened at the same time. (New York Times, December 19, 1936)
December 31, 1942
"In the interest of simplification of corporate structure, the Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary, organized in 1933 to manage our copper properties in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, was dissolved on Dec. 31, 1942." (New York Times, March 14, 1943, citing Kennecott's 1942 annual report)
January 1, 1943
The former Ray Consolidated mine at Ray, Arizona, owned and operated by Nevada Consolidated, became the Ray Mines Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation.
The Ray & Gila Valley Railroad was always owned and controlled by the copper mine owners. In 1943, Kennecott Copper Corporation consolidated its mines in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona. At that time, the Ray & Gila Valley as a separate common carrier railroad was abandoned, but Kennecott continued to run the trains using former R&GV steam locomotives.
December 15, 1943
The Ray & Gila Valley Railroad was withdrawn as a common carrier. (Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Volume 2, 1980, page 672)
February 9, 1944
The Ray & Gila Valley Railroad was dissolved as a corporation. (Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Volume 2, 1980, page 672)
RS-2 number 100 was delivered, and was used to power the ore trains between the Ray mine and the mill and smelter at Hayden, operating over the SP.
RS-3 number 109 was delivered, to allow Kennecott to stop operating steam locomotives, or leasing SP locomotives when number 100 was out of service for repairs or maintenance.
Kennecott began the the removal of overburden and waste rock, to convert the Ray mine from underground operations to an open pit mine.
Production began at the Ray open pit mine, and the underground mine was closed.
Asarco purchased the Kennecott smelter in Hayden.
MINE CONCERN EXPANDS - Kennecott Plans $40 Million Expenditure on Mines - The Kennecott Copper Corporation plans to spend $40,000,000 to extend the life and reduce production costs of its copper mines at Ray, Ariz. The company, the nation's largest copper producer, announced yesterday that the program was expected to increase the Ray Mines division's annual production 20,000 tons by 1958. Last year the division turned out about 50,000 tons. The program will include extending the limits of the mine pit so that adjacent and deeper sections of the ore body can be mined, installation of additional mining and milling equipment and relocation of a creek and many surface installations built to serve former underground operations. Construction of a smelter to handle the division's output also is planned. (New York Times, April 25, 1956)
Kennecott built its own smelter at Hayden. Prior to 1958, all ore from the Ray mine was processed at the Hayden smelter owned and operated by American Smelting & Refining Company (Asarco). Asarco continued to receive ore from all of the surrounding mines.
Kennecott announced that it would spend $35 million to raise the capacity of its Ray Mines Division from its current 24,000 tons of finished copper per year, to 100,000 tons per year. (New York Times, October 28, 1966)
The two GP39s were delivered, numbered as Kennecott no. 1 and no. 2. Within a few months, the RS-2 (no. 100) and the RS-3 (no. 109) were transferred to the Nevada Mines Division.
The Ray Mines Division's rail operations consisted of the two GP39's being used as road power for the ore trains from the mine at Ray, nine miles to Ray Junction on the Southern Pacific. The Espee then moved the ore trains, using its own power and crews, twenty-three miles south to Hayden Junction and then two miles to the mill at Hayden. The Southern Pacific furnished the power to switch the cars onto the car dumpers at the Hayden smelter. The two small GE's and the Plymouth no. 882 were used as in-plant switchers at the mill and smelter at Hayden. Plymouth no. 81 is used as the switcher at the Ray mine. (also see Trains for July 1956, p.27, and April 1971, p.15)
The GP39-2, Kennecott no. 3, was delivered, joining the two GP39s already in service.
During this time, Southern Pacific provided the service between the connection with Kennecott's railroad at Ray Junction, and Hayden. The motive power was two GP40-2s with a "slug" between them to provide additional tractive effort. During 1977, the SP motive power was in the form of GP35s. The Kennecott units were used to move the ore trains from the Ray mine to ray Junction, where the SP power and crews took the trains to Hayden. The SP power remained with the loaded train as it passed through the dumper at the Hayden mill, then ran around the dumped train, then took the empty train back to Ray Junction.
Kennecott closed its Hayden smelter.
Asarco modernized its own Hayden smelter, and began processing ore from Kennecott's Ray mine.
June 1, 1986
Copper Basin Railway took over the combined operation of the Ray Mine to Ray Junction, on Kennecott tracks, over the SP between Ray Junction and Hayden Junction, and over Kennecott tracks between Hayden Junction and the smelter and mill at Hayden. Operations started at 12:01 am on June 1, 1986. Pending the arrival of their own locomotives, Copper Basin operations began using locomotives leased from Kennecott and Southern Pacific (three Kennecott GP39s, and six SP GP35s).
September 11, 1986
The Standard Oil Company announced that "it had agreed to sell two major units of its copper mining subsidiary, the Kennecott Corporation, for about $220 million. The Cleveland-based energy company said it had agreed to sell its two-thirds interest in the Chino Mines Company in New Mexico to the Phelps Dodge Corporation. It also said that it would sell its Ray Mines division in Arizona to Asarco Inc., the New York mining company. The remaining third of the Chino Mines is owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation. The two units represent about half of Kennecott's annual production capability. The sale of the two operations leaves the mining unit with its copper division in Bingham Canyon, Utah. The Utah mines have been closed since March 1985 and are undergoing a $400 million, three-year modernization program. Standard Oil said the sale was part of a reorganization in which it planned to divest itself of certain operations that it considered inconsistent with its long-term strategy. 'After completing a study of all our operations, we decided to focus on our strengths, and that is primarily in petroleum,' John F. Andes, a Standard Oil spokesman, said." (New York Times, September 12, 1986, "yesterday")
Copper Basin Railway (CBRY) took over the operation of the Kennecott railroad at the same time. The three Kennecott GP39 locomotives were sold to Copper Basin Railway, and today  continue to operate along the route as CBRY 401, 402 and 403.
Grupo Mexico acquired Asarco. At the time, Grupo Mexico, S.A. de C.V. was Mexico's largest mining company and the world's third largest producer of copper, fourth largest of silver, and fifth largest of zinc.
Grupo Mexico began as a group of Asarco and Anaconda operations in Mexico. In 1965, the Asarco Mexico operations were consolidated under the name Asarco Mexicana, S.A., with Asarco owning 49 per cent, and a group of Mexican investors owning the remaining 51 per cent. Asarco Mexicana, S.A., became Industrial Minera Mexico, S.A. in 1974, when another 15 percent was sold to Mexican investors, reducing Asarco's stake to 34 percent. In 1975, American Smelting & Refining Company formally changed its name to Asarco, Inc. In 1994 Grupo Mexico, S.A. de C.V. was established as a holding company with the objective of replacing Industrial Minera Mexico and consolidating all of the company's subsidiaries. Grupo Mexico purchased Asarco's remaining interest in 1997. Grupo Mexico brought its relationship with Asarco full circle in 1999, when it bought Asarco for $1.18 billion in cash and the assumption of $1.02 billion in debt. The purchase of Asarco made Grupo Mexico the world's third largest copper producer. (Read more about Grupo Mexico at FundingUniverse.com)
The former Kennecott smelter at Hayden was demolished, but the smoke stack remained standing.
August 9, 2005
Asarco LLC declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In November 2009, a reorganization plan was approved that absolved all present and future asbestos-related claims, as well as historical environmental and toxic liabilities, and satisfied outstanding bond debt. (Asarco press release dated November 13, 2009)
December 8, 2009
Grupo Mexico took control of Asarco LLC, following a Texas bankruptcy court's approval of the sale. Grupo Mexico and rival suitor Sterlite Industries Ltd., a mining firm headquartered in India and controlled by London-based Vedanta Resources Plc, fought bitterly for control of Asarco, which has been in bankruptcy for the last four years. Grupo Mexico controlled Asarco before putting the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas in 2005. (The Arizona Republic, December 9, 2009)
Grupo Mexico lost control of Asarco when Asarco declared bankruptcy in 2005 following an internal dispute over the ownership of Southern Peru Copper Company, one of Asarco's major assets prior to Grupo Mexico's purchase of Asarco in 1999. In 2009 Grupo Mexico regained control of Asarco.
The Hayden Operations consists of a 27,400 ton/day concentrator and a 720,000 ton/year copper smelter consisting of an oxygen flash furnace, converters, anode casting, oxygen plant, acid plant, and associated maintenance, warehouse and administrative facilities. Anodes produced at the smelter are shipped to the Amarillo Copper Refinery. The sulphuric acid produced at the acid plant is used in the leaching operations or sold into the market. (ASARCO Grupo Mexico)
The Ray Operations are located 18 miles to the west of the Hayden Operations, and 64 miles southeast of Phoenix. The Hayden Operations and General Administrative Offices are located 70 miles northeast of Tucson.
The Ray Operations consists of a 250,000 ton/day open pit mine with a 30,000 ton/day concentrator, a 103 million pound/year solvent extraction-electrowinning operation, and associated maintenance, warehouse and administrative facilities. Cathode copper produced in the SX-EW operation is shipped to outside customers and the Asarco Amarillo Copper Refinery.
History of Asarco's Hayden smelter, part of the Ray Complex:
- 1912 -- Hayden smelter construction completed
- 1983 -- Hayden smelter Flash Furnace Installed at a cost of $132M
- 1986 -- Ray Unit purchased from Kennecott, including Ray Smelter and Hayden Concentrator
History of Asarco's Ray and Hayden Complex
- 1989 -- Hayden Concentrator modernization
- 1991 -- Ray Complex formed
- 1992 -- Ray Concentrator commissioned; expansion of Ray mine completed
- 1996 -- Hayden Concentrator modernization
- 1998 -- Ferric cure leaching commenced
- 1999 -- Ray secondary crusher commissioned, Tankhouse renovation completed
- 2000 -- Ray and Hayden Operations formed
History of Asarco's (former Kennecott) Ray mine
- 1880 -- Mineral Creek Mining Company
- 1883 -- Ray Copper Company
- 1898 -- Globe Mines Exploration Co., Ltd.
- 1899 -- Ray Copper Mines, Ltd.
- 1906 -- Gila & Ray Copper Companies
- 1910 -- Ray Consolidated Copper Company
- 1911 -- Underground Mine
- 1927 -- Nevada Consolidated Copper Company
- 1933 -- Kennecott Copper Corporation, Ray Mines Division
- 1948 -- Stripping Began
- 1952 -- Open-Pit Mine Began
- 1955 -- Underground Mine Ceased
A local railroad, Copper Basin Railway, transports ore from the Ray Mine to the Hayden concentrator, concentrate from the Ray concentrator to the smelter, and sulphuric acid from the smelter to the leaching facilities.
Copper Basin Railway
On May 1, 1986, CBRY signed an agreement to lease three GP9 locomotives from Chrome Locomotive, Inc., to be numbered as CBRY 201-203. The locomotives were reconditioned and shipped to Copper Basin, arriving there in early July 1986.
The lease continued after the August 1990 sale of Chrome Locomotive to National Railway Equipment, and remained in effect through the end of December 1990. (ICC Recordation 16990, dated May 1, 1986)
May 23, 1986
Copper Basin Railway was approved as a corporation in the state of Arizona.
June 1, 1986
Copper Basin Railway took over the combined operation of the former Kennecott Ray Mines railroad. Three separate segments were part of the operation: 1) Kennecott trackage from the Ray mine to Ray Junction; 2) Southern Pacific trackage between Ray Junction and Hayden Junction; and 3) Kennecott trackage between Hayden Junction and the smelter and mill at Hayden. Operations started at 12:01 am on June 1, 1986. Pending the arrival of their own locomotives, Copper Basin operations began using locomotives leased from Kennecott and Southern Pacific (three Kennecott GP39s, and six SP GP35s). (Ted Ellis, email dated May 4, 2013)
July 10, 1986
CBRY leased three GP9 locomotives from Chrome Locomotive, Inc., numbered as CBRY 201-203, and the 56-month lease (4 years, 8 months, through the end of 1990) went into effect on July 10, 1986. (ICC Recordation 16990, dated May 1, 1986)
The Copper Basin (CBRY) began operations in 1986 after Southern Pacific decided to sell its Hayden Branch, from Magma to Hayden. At the same time Asarco (until 1975 the American Smelting & Refining Co.) was considering the purchase of Kennecott Copper's Ray Mine. Ultimately, Asarco purchased the mine, and the Copper Basin purchased SP's branch as well as Kennecott's private railroads at Ray and Hayden. Thus, from three marginal operations was born a money-maker. "That was the only way we could make it work--if we had all three," said [Jake Jacobson, CBRY president]. But many things stayed the same. "We're using the same locomotives--some Kennecott, some SP--to haul the same products, on the same track with some of the same people." One big difference, he's proud to point out, is the freight rate, now significantly lower than when SP owned the line. (Trains magazine, October 2001, page 50, including map of area)
Copper Basin Railway purchased two high-cab GP39-2 locomotives from Kennecott Utah Copper, numbered as KUC 791 and 799. The two locomotives were sent to AMF in Montreal for reconditioning and to have their cabs lowered. Completed as CBRy 501 and 502, entering service in September 1993. (see also STB Recordation 25897, dated October 5, 2005; agreement between Copper Basin Railway and Rail Management Corp.)
During January 2003, Copper Basin Railway was 55 per cent owned by Rail Management Corporation, and 45 per cent owned by Asarco. (STB Decision 33318, Docket 34306, dated January 22, 2003)
May 26, 2005
"Today, GWI [Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.] announced it reached an agreement with Rail Management Corp. (RMC) to acquire the company's 14 short lines for $243 million cash and the assumption of $1.7 million of non-interest bearing debt. GWI will operate the short lines through its Rail Link subsidiary." "Founded in 1980, RMC owns and operates [14 shortline railroads, including the] 70-mile Copper Basin Railway Inc. ..." "The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and Surface Transportation Board requirements. GWI expects to close the transaction on June 1. (Progressive Railroading, May 26, 2005)
(Rail Management Corporation, mentioned above, and Rail Partners LLC, mentioned below, are closely affiliated through common ownership and control by Earl Durden.)
By October 2005, CBRY owned the three GP9 locomotives originally leased in May 1986. (STB Recordation 25897, dated October 5, 2005)
September 28, 2006
"ASARCO Purchases Copper Basin Railway" "TUCSON, AZ -- ASARCO LLC announced today that it has purchased 100% of the outstanding shares of Copper Basin Railway Inc., a short line railroad that services its Ray Mine and Hayden Smelter in Arizona." "The purchase, which recently closed, involved ASARCO's acquisition of the 55% controlling interest held by Rail Partners II, LLC for a price of approximately $11.45 million. Prior to the acquisition, ASARCO held a 45% interest in the railroad. The purchase was authorized by the bankruptcy court in Corpus Christi, Texas where ASARCO's chapter 11 proceeding is pending." "'We are excited about this acquisition,' stated Joseph Lapinsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of ASARCO. 'This railroad is critical to the Company's ongoing operations. Owning and operating this asset will greatly assist us in controlling key long term transportation costs,' he said." "Copper Basin Railway is a Class III short-line freight railroad that operates a 20-mile segment of track between the Ray Mine and the Hayden Smelter, as well as a 37-mile segment of track between the Ray junction and the Union Pacific interchange at Magma, in south central Arizona. ASARCO is the railroad's primary customer, accounting for over 95% of the rail traffic. The railroad transports sulfide copper ore and concentrates from the Ray Mine to the Hayden Smelter and carries sulfuric acid, a by-product of the smelting operations that is used in the extraction of oxide copper, from the Hayden plant to the Ray Mine. The railroad also transports copper anodes and cathodes on the first leg of their journey from the smelter to ASARCO's Amarillo Texas refinery." "ASARCO LLC is a Tucson-based integrated copper mining, smelting and refining company." (ASARCO news release dated September 28, 2006)
The following comes from Union Pacific's web site, as of January 2012:
CBRY operates freight service from a connection with the UP at Magma, AZ. Its main line runs from Magma to Winkelman, AZ, a distance of 54 miles. A branch line runs 7 miles, from Ray Junction to Ray, AZ. Freight includes copper concentrates, ore, finished and unfinished copper, sulfuric acid, lumber, Gatorade, plastics and military equipment. Connection is made with the San Manuel Arizona Railroad (SMA) at Hayden, AZ. CBRY handles SMA traffic from Hayden to interchange with UP, at Magma.
The Magma-Winkelman line was constructed by the Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) subsidiary Phoenix and Eastern Railroad between 1902-1904. On March 10, 1910, the Phoenix and Eastern was leased and became a non-operating subsidiary of the SP and operated by the Arizona Eastern Railroad. The railroad was sold to the Arizona Eastern Railroad on October 31, 1945. The Arizona Eastern Railroad was merged into SP on September 30, 1955. At some point SP sold the line to mine operator Kennecott Copper. On August 15, 1986, the line was sold by Kennecott Copper and the CBRY was started. The CBRY was owned by Rail Management Corporation from 1986-2005. In 2006, ASARCO Copper Corporation purchased the entire railroad. ASARCO also owns the Ray Mine and Hayden Smelter, CBRY's primary customers.
Copper Basin Railway Photos -- View Ted Ellis' online collection of photos of Copper Basin Railway.
- Ray Mines Locomotives -- Roster listings of steam and diesel locomotives used at the Ray mines.