Landslip at Kennecott Mine, no injuries reported

June 2, 2021

An anticipated landslip at Kennecott Copper's Bingham Canyon Mine near Salt Lake City, UT occurred on June 1 causing no injuries but it did disrupt operations at the mine, Reuters reported.

Rio Tinto reported the slip had been expected based on geo-technical monitoring at the mine, and all personnel had been removed from the area in advance to ensure safety. Rio Tinto didn’t give any estimate for potentially lost production at the mine or impact on equipment, if any.

"The landslip was expected based on geotechnical monitoring that is constantly undertaken at the mine and therefore all personnel had been removed from the area in advance to ensure their safety," a spokesperson for Rio Tinto said in a statement.

 The mine was the site of a significant landslide in 2013. That landslide resulted in damage to equipment and buildings at the mine but no injuries thanks to geo-technical monitoring at the time.

“We continue to monitor the situation and will resume work in the area when it is safe to do so. Other parts of the mine and the Rio Tinto Kennecott operation continue to run as normal,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.

Kennecott produced 140,000 tonnes of copper in 2020, and the disruption comes amid short supply of copper concentrate globally, partly due to logistics challenges brought on by COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

One measure of copper concentrate supply comes in the fees that smelters charge miners to refine their concentrate into metals.

Low fees typically signal short supply, and treatment and refining charges were nearly halved from year-ago levels to hit decade lows of $30.5 a tonne and $3.05 a pound in mid-April, before recovering to $35.50 a tonne on Wednesday.
 

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