San Manuel is in the broad San Pedro River Valley of

southeastern Pinal County. The town is approximately 140 miles

southeast of Phoenix and 40 miles northeast of Tucson at an elevation

of 3,500 feet. Two other communities, Mammoth and Oracle,

are located within a 10-mile radius of San Manuel and make up the

tri-community area.

 

In 1944, Magma Copper Company purchased existing mining

claims in the area and launched a program of exploration and

development that resulted in the present-day mine, mill, smelter,

refinery and community. For the name of its new mine, Magma

retained the old claim name, San Manuel, patron saint of one of

the early day prospectors. Because of the isolation and immensity

of the new mining project, construction to provide adequate housing

for employees began in mid-1952. The town was later opened

for private home ownership and real estate development. It is now

100 percent privately owned.

 

Metal production is the most significant economic activity in Pinal

County and is a major influence in San Manuel. Magma Copper

Company operates underground and open pit copper mines, concentrator,

smelter, refinery and rod manufacturing plant. The refinery,

the largest such facility in Arizona, was completed in 1971 and

has an annual capacity of 300,000 tons. The smelter processes

1,200,000 tons of copper concentrates per year, 25 percent of the

entire U.S. copper smelting capacity. Much of the production is

continuous cast copper re-draw rod, while the remainder is in the

form of cathode copper. An important by-product is sulfuric acid,

which is produced at a rate of approximately 3,000 tons per day.

These facilities, in addition to the administrative offices, employ

3,500 persons. Several other smaller mines and quarries and working

cattle ranches are located in the area and provide additional

employment and income to San Manuel.

 

The San Manuel area has open land and a mature infrastructure

for industrial development, small research units, warehousing

and distribution centers. A warehouse certified by the New York

Commodities Exchange holds copper under futures contracts. All of

Pinal County is an Enterprise Zone.

 

San Manuel enjoys a mountainous setting near the many scenic

attractions in southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. One of the more

popular areas is Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest just

southwest of San Manuel. The spectacular Galiuro and Catalina

Mountains and rolling desert have attracted various TV and movie

companies to film on location in the area.

 

Scenic drives in the area include Pinal Pioneer Parkway, which

extends northwest to Florence, traversing a unique natural garden.

Virtually all kinds of desert flora can be seen along the main route

and easily accessible side roads. Mining and ranching activities in

the area also provide-and-basin ecological system and is noted for

its geological features. Biosphere 2 is 12 miles west.