The outer face of the Bingham Canyon Mine will undergo a $100 million face lift that will improve the aesthetic appearance of the property and mitigate potential flood danger by adding vegetation to the south- and east-facing rock piles along the Oquirrh Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT.
Rio Tinto Kennecott said the rehabilitation plan named the Alternative View Construction Project will take five years. The project is expected to mitigate potential flood danger in the mine area that can occur after heavy rains as well as improve the overall look of the granite faces of the mountains that create the western boundary of the Salt Lake Valley, The Deseret News reported.
Over the next two years, crews of more than 100 engineers and workers will remove waste rock material across the nearly 3-mile upper swath of the mine property, said Rio Tinto Kennecott environmental engineer Zeb Kenyon.
Once removed, material will be re-graded at an angle that will allow for revegetation of the newly altered surface, he said. The project will include the construction of new walls and stormwater basins that will be engineered and constructed to handle a minimum of a 100-year, 24-hour storm event — a much higher tolerance than the 10-year, 24-hour storm capability that currently exists.
Future reclamation of the newly placed material will create long-term benefits by improving the aesthetics of the base of the valley facing waste rock piles, reduce water infiltration and erosion, and improve surface water management, Kenyon said. The project also provides options for work that could extend the long-term life of the mine that could take the operation through 2029 and enable further reclamation of the historic waste rock piles, he added.
“While this work will be more visible compared to what we do inside the mine, we are committed to minimizing impacts and maintaining all regulatory compliance,” Kenyon said.
Michael Piercy, general manager of construction for Rio Tinto Kennecott said the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2020, will not only help with water management on the property, but will also give the community a rejuvenated and more aesthetically pleasing view as they peer to the west everyday.
He also noted that as the area is re-seeded and begins to grow, the amount of dust will significantly diminish and the overall air quality in the immediate area and across the valley will improve greatly.