Magma Copper Smelter History Project Update
Honoring the past, building for the future
Part of Resolution Copper’s ongoing effort to honor the history of the Magma Copper Company smelter has been the work of our contractor, WestLand Resources, Inc. (WestLand). In February of this year, WestLand carried out detailed architectural documentation of the standing structures of the smelter complex, using an aerial drone to take high-resolution photographs and video of each structure. The drone imagery was processed with specialized computer software to generate both conventional architectural drawings of individual structures as well as three-dimensional models of selected buildings. The drawings and other documentation prepared by WestLand have been used to complete the standard Historic Property Inventory Forms for individual structures typically required by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office.
In addition to field documentation of the Magma smelter, WestLand has also been carrying out historical research on the smelter complex, consulting a wide variety of early maps, photographs, company records, and other documents. These sources together provide a better understanding of when the different parts of the complex were built and used, and what the role of the smelter was in the history of both Magma Copper and the community of Superior.
WestLand has also been conducting oral history interviews with former Magma employees who worked either at the smelter itself or in other parts of the Magma operation. To date, Westland has interviewed 14 former employees, all of whom have contributed valuable information about the smelter and its place in the hearts and minds of the people of Superior. The interviews have been recorded by a professional videographer, and excerpts of the recordings will be used to produce a video history of the smelter for public distribution.
WestLand has presented the results of the smelter documentation project in a technical report submitted to Resolution. The results have also been summarized by the WestLand team in a series of public presentations in Superior over the last several months. In addition, WestLand is working on a booklet about the history of the smelter that will include historic and recent maps and photographs of the smelter complex. The booklet will be available for public distribution later this year.