Inside America’s Super Smelter

From Atomic Frontier.

I have a go at industrial copper smelting and meet some incredible engineers! This process is far more complex – and significantly more ancient – than I ever imagined.

Huge thanks to the teams at Rio Tinto, the Copperton Concentrator, and Kennecott Copper Smelter for showing me around their facilities and making this video possible.

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0:00 Intro
0:39 An accidental history of copper
2:43 Mining
3:01 Inside the concentrator
5:18 The super smelter
7:45 Electrolysis
8:46 Outro

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This video was brought to you by an unhealthy amount of coffee and our awesome Patrons at

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Hi, I’m James. I explore the world looking for interesting engineering stories which explore complex issues in interesting ways. I hold a First-Class Honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Western Australia and am currently studying a Masters of Space Systems Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

My website is, I occasionally tweet from, and you can join the Atomic Frontier Discord server to talk about cool engineering stuff at You can help support my work and see some cool behind-the-scenes content at