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Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 31° 7' North , 110° 27' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 31.1166666667, -110.45
Name(s) in local language(s):Mina Milpillas, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico
Other regions containing this locality:Sonoran Desert, North America

Mine Information: Production started in 2006 with a planned 11 year mine life. By late 2011 most of the 7 principal copper oxide bodies were mined out and company sources indicated that, unless more carbonate-rich ores are found, production will be almost purely chalcocite ores by mid to late 2012. Faults and water courses with secondary copper oxide species extend locally downwards into the supergene sulfide zone, but most post-2012 oxide species have come from upper levels where miners had the opportunity to collect after the areas were abandonded and before back-filling. (2015): Exploration has been successful in finding additional sulfide ores are depth and lateral to the know deposit...they now estimate a total of 12 years [2027] of mine life at the 2011 production level (388 kilotons at 26.4 kilotons of copper per year. Only small amounts of additional oxide materials have been found.

Specimen collecting by miners and tours by dealers are actively discouraged.

Geology: The district lies within the NW‐SE trending metallogenic Laramidian (late Cretaceous to Eocene) copper belt of
Southwest North America which extends from Sonora over Arizona to New Mexico. The Milpillas deposit, located in an extensional zone called Cuitaca Graben, is a partially oxidized porphyry copper deposit with a series of alternating copper carbonate-oxide and chalcocite enrichment blankets on top of low grade primary chalcopyrite-bornite mineralization. Mineralization is covered by 250 meters of gravels and extends to 720 meters depth. Most of the copper carbonate oxide ores occur in the top 200 meters of the deposit. Host rocks are volcaniclastic from the Jurassic Henrietta formation and the Laramide Mesa formation in which monzonitic to quartzmonzonitic stocks intrude. The sercitically altered stocks and the intruded volcaniclastic rocks host the main copper mineralization.

The supergene profile in Milpillas is made up of 4 principal zones, within which certain overlap exists. They are from top to the bottom as follows:
1. The leached cap is characterized by oxidized rocks: goethite, hematite and jarosite are abundant, copper values are very low (between 0.01 and 0.05 %) with a common thickness of 100 ‐ 300m. Montmorillonite, sericite and kaolinite dominate as secondary alteration minerals of the volcanic hostrock.
2. The oxide zone above the water table is situated at the lowermost part of the leached zone: sub‐horizontal mineralized blankets, made up mostly by copper oxides, copper carbonates and sulfates formed mostly by oxidation of preexisting chalcocite. Minor amounts precipitated from oversaturated groundwater. The mix of different copper species is a result
of at least three supergene enrichment cycles in Milpillas due to uplift or changes in the water level.
3. Supergene enrichment zone: situated at the base of the weathering profile with reducing conditions underneath the paleo water level. In this zone the copper solubility is decreased, which results in the replacement of iron in the primary hypogene minerals: chalcocite dominates together with covellite when copper enrichment is less pronounced. Native
copper can be found at the borderline of reduced and oxidized conditions. 2015: Pyrite crystals to 15 cm with variable coatings of bornite (XRD verified) have emerged from this zone.
4. Hypogene primary mineralization: the surface between this zone and the supergene enriched one is irregularly shaped. In a transition zone different “copper oxide” minerals as well as sulfides can be abundant. Underneath the transition zone the mineralization is primary as it is described above.

Mineral List

36 valid minerals.

The above list contains all mineral locality references listed on This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


Berrocal-Lopez, G., and Islas-de la Vega,A. (2009): Geologia del porfido cuprifero de Milpillas, Municipio de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico. in, Clark, K.F., Salas-Piza, G.A., and Cubillas-Estrada, R. editors, Geologia Economica de Mexico, Segunda Edicion, 2009, Asociacion de Ingenieros de Minas, Metalurgistas y Geologos de Mexico, Tegra Color, Mexico D.F., Mexico, p. 857-862.

De la Garza-N., V., Nogues-A., B., and Correon-P., N., 2006, Geology, Mineralization and Emplacement of the Milpillas Secondarily Enriched Porphyry Copper Deposit, Sonora, Mexico, 10p.

Moore, T., and Origlieri, M. (2008): Famous Mineral Localities: The Milpillas Mine, Cananea District, Sonora, Mexico. Mineralogical Record 39(6), 25-34.

Singer, D.A., Berger, V.I., and Moring, B.C. (2008): Porphyry copper deposits of the world: Database and grade and tonnage models, 2008. US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1155.

USGS (2005), Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS): U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, loc. file ID #10049594, 10049643 & 10254942.

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