Limited mining resumes at Bingham canyon

May 2, 2013

Officials at Kennecott Utah Copper announced that limited activity has resumed at the Bingham Canyon Mine and that the company expects to begin transporting copper ore to its crusher shortly.

Operations at the mine were halted on April 11 when a massive landslide broke free. There were no injuries from the slide, but some equipment was buried.

Company officials said the resumed mining activity is in an area that wasn't effected by the slide, called "the cornerstone," and has nothing to do with the actual mining of ore.

Rio Tinto's Kenecott Utah Copper spokesman Justin Jones said mining of "waste rock" resumed about 1 a.m. April 27 in the southeastern part of the mine. It marks the first activity in the mine since the slide, the Deseret News reported.

The massive slide registered as a magnitude 2.4 shake at the University of Utah seismograph station. Pictures taken from KSL Chopper 5 show the extent of the slide but the slide's exact dimensions had not yet been determined.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has ordered work in that area stopped until further notice. Jones hoped that crews would be able to get to bottom of the pit by next week.

"It is essential for us to get back to work and get up and running as soon as possible," Jones said.

Until then, all employees have been instructed to show up to work as normal, he said.

A couple of times each year, the mine shuts down to retrofit and upgrade, Jones said. The mine is going ahead with those operations now while the actual mining operation is shutdown. He said workers would also be assigned other duties, and as of now there would be no layoffs.

No one was injured in the massive slide, thanks to ground movement detectors that had been indicating unusually high slope movement. Kennecott had announced Tuesday, prior to the slide, that the visitors center would be closed for the remainder of 2013 because of the slope movement. Accelerated movement had been detected first back in February.

It was still unclear Saturday what caused the massive slide.

Kennecott Utah Copper is the second-largest copper producer in the U.S., accounting for nearly 25 percent of annual U.S. copper output. In 2011, Kennecott produced 237,000 tons of copper, 379,000 troy ounces of gold, 3.2 million troy oz of silver, 30 million lbs of molybdenum and other products.


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