Photo of the Morenci Copper Mine in Morenci, Arizona.

Mesabi Radiators Help American Copper Mines Stay Running Day and Night

Driven by a demand for high-tech products, copper is a critical mineral to manufacturing in the U.S. and around the world. By offering unmatched durability, reliability, and versatility, Mesabi® radiators by L&M Radiator help ensure that the production of this valuable metal seamlessly meets the world’s demand. 

Considering copper is one of the oldest metals ever utilized, some might find it surprising as to how valuable it is today to any number of high-tech products that households and businesses around the world depend upon. Between power transmission and generation, building wiring, electronics, telecommunication, and, more recently, the growth of battery operated vehicles, the value and importance of copper to our world’s economic success is undeniable. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2022, the United States alone produced 1,230,000 tons of recoverable copper. Copper is only outranked in consumption by iron and aluminum.

Considering the value of copper to the U.S. and world economies, it’s no wonder that copper mines in the U.S. are running day and night to fulfill the need for copper ore. In this business, the downtime of a machine, such as a haul truck, drill, excavator, or dozer, can literally cost a mine tens of thousands of dollars a day. It’s why they turn to Mesabi radiators to keep their mining operations running smoothly, 24/7.

According to John Bernal, Sales Representative at L&M Radiator, who has been working with copper mines in the Western U.S. for more than 25 years, most copper mines in the United States are open-pit mines. Copper is mined by blasting, where copper is known to exist. Then, haul trucks, dozers, and shovels retrieve the copper and haul it to the nearest processing plant. Komatsu and Caterpillar (CAT) are the major equipment manufacturers found in copper mines throughout the United States.

However, the process of extracting copper from the ground comes with its fair share of obstacles. Faced with an increasingly competitive industry and demand that grows by the day, copper mining requires equipment whose reliability must be unquestionable. 

Extreme Cold & Extreme Heat: Copper Mining Must Do It All

Because copper can be mined in so many vastly different landscapes, reliability is often easier said than done. Machines used for mining copper must be equipped to stand up to any environment at any time. 

Photo of the Morenci Copper Mine in Morenci, Arizona.
Photo: Morenci Copper Mine in Morenci, Arizona.

For example, the Mesabi radiators placed on heavy-duty mining equipment at Freeport’s Morenci Mine in Morenci, Arizona must cool machines that can face up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit on any given day. Morenci copper mine is one of the largest producers of copper in North America. So, each machine in the mine’s fleet of nearly 200 must be ready to take the heat.

“The last time I visited Morenci Mine, it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Whenever we design a radiator for an application, we make sure it can handle whatever environmental conditions it will encounter, be it -50 or +120 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Bernal. “Of course, you must also consider the altitude. Is the air thinner? Is the mine near the ocean? There are many things that factor into the design of Mesabi radiators – and we test for them all, at full load, so we know that our products are going to work in the conditions they will actually operate in.”

Photo of Bingham Canyon in Utah
Photo: Bingham Canyon in Utah

In his role as a sales representative for the Western United States, Bernal has traveled far and wide to optimize operations in copper mines by introducing Mesabi® radiators into the fold. He has had his boots immediately stuck in the ground while visiting a site that was so muddy that it was clogging up radiators left and right, tried to remain steady on an Arctic road covered in thick ice, and braved the sweltering heat of summertime in Arizona in his various adventures visiting copper mines around the country. Bingham Canyon in Utah, among the deepest open-pit copper mines in the world, is another one of his frequently visited spots.

“Our equipment is built to succeed in the most extreme environments. We handle the dust, we handle the snow, the mud, whatever it is,” said Bernal. “We have adapted our product to almost every imaginable application to meet our customers’ needs.”


Maximizing ‘Uptime’ in Copper Mining Operations 

One of the ways that Mesabi radiators ensure success and durability is through their seamless ability to be repaired and cleaned in the field with high-pressure water up to 1200 PSI. So, if a rock hits a few of a radiator’s tubes and knocks them out, if mud clogs a radiator’s tubes, or if any other random disaster occurs, a machine can be up and running again in hardly any time at all – sometimes even within the hour. 

“Our goal has always been to reduce downtime,” said Bernal. “That is why we make our radiator tubes easily replaceable. If damage occurs, a mine won’t have to pull the truck off the site, run it over to a repair shop, take the radiator off, and put a new one on. At that point, you’ve lost a day of work and profits. In rough environments, things happen. We help mines minimize downtime.”

Bernal notes that it isn’t good enough to believe that a product will work. That’s why every design produced by L&M Radiator has been tested at 100% capacity to ensure it can handle any operating condition that it encounters. 

“Copper mines need to know their equipment can run at 100% load,” said Bernal. “We have confidence in our radiators because we don’t put our product out there unless we know it will work. Mesabi offers copper mines their best chance at reliability. It’s as simple as that.”

L&M Radiator: Discover the Mesabi Difference

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