IMAGE GALLERY: Touring Caterpillar's 6,500-acre testing grounds

Freeport McMoran’s Sierrita Mine is adjacent to Tinaja Hills. The ASARCO Mission Mine is located to the north of Sierrita Mine.

The Caterpillar Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Learning Center sits on 6,500 acres nestled in the Sonoran Desert, Green Valley, Arizona. More than 70 pieces of equipment are on site.

This large, modern complex is built for learning and training. It is staffed with instructors, product demonstrators and other support staff.

The Tucson proving grounds has a large shop building equipped for assembly and repair of large mining equipment. 

At the heart of Tinaja Hills is the modern conference center, which features a 150-seat auditorium and a dining room that seats an equal number. A fully enclosed service shop contains two service bays for service and maintenance training. The conference center and shop offer 50,000 square feet of enclosed area.

The Training Center is staffed by 16 full-time employees, which include 10 product demonstrators/instructors, who also conduct operator training at customer sites around the world.

Approximately 100 people are assigned to Tinaja Hills testing ground, and many engineers from design groups spend time at the facility during testing of their machines.

The testing grounds hosts dealer events and other special occassionans. Attendees at the 2014 Global Mining Forum take pictures of the big equipment on display.

Tinaja Hills is adjacent to the Freeport McMoran Sierrita Mine, which is a large surface mine recovering copper and molybdenum. Caterpillar leases previously mined property from the mining company for mining equipment testing.

The Tinaja Hills Demonstration is used for performance and durability testing of large mining equipment and proof-of-concept testing of prototypes.

The variety of geological conditions and high ambient temperatures in summer enable testing in tough conditions.

The Demonstration and Learning Center has several different demonstration areas—ranging from the main demo area that has permanent, covered seating for hundreds to industry-focused areas such as paving, building construction and quarry.

The testing areas are often reconfigured for specific tests.

The testing grounds comprise of 6,500 for all of Tinaja Hills, both the training center and proving grounds.

The location near mining operations provides true mining conditions, and the location near a city with good air transportation and accommodations is especially important for the many visitors to Tinaja Hills.

Many miles of haulage roads and a variety of digging areas allow thorough testing.

With writing provided by Mark Sprouls, editorial consultant for Caterpillar.