Copper at the Crossroads

Arizona has been a leading copper producer for more than a century. But the metals market is volatile. Those years have been marked by cycles of fortune and failure and boom and bust.

Copper at the Crossroads is a 3-part radio documentary examining the past, present, and future of Arizona’s copper mining industry.


The series aired in 2011 on Tucson NPR station KUAZ-FM.

Executive Producer/Reporter: Mark Duggan

Copper chemical symbol cube


Some thrived, some died

Tracking the history of Arizona’s boom and bust towns. Bisbee and Globe survived, Helvetia and Ruby didn’t.

“I’m not a miner, I’m a provider”

Onofre Tafoya spent 40 years moving the earth in an underground copper mine near Tucson. But it was more than hard work. It was the place where, as he says, he “became a man.”

Copper: The miracle metal

Copper mining in Arizona is a tale of both fortune and failure. A look at the past, present and future of an industry at the crossroads.


Copper mine tailings piles in the desert

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