Mine access road opens at Rio Tinto Kennecott

South Jordan, Utah (Nov. 6, 2013) – With the opening of the mine access road, Rio Tinto Kennecott achieves its latest slide remediation milestone—restoring top-to-bottom access within the mine.

Opening months ahead of schedule, the accelerated construction timeframe can be credited to many efficiency initiatives identified and implemented by Kennecott's workforce:

  • New haul truck queuing patterns that shortened driving time enabling workers to spend time on other tasks such as clearing benches within the mine.
  • Utilizing the skill of the mine's experienced truck and shovel operators to clear more than 1,900 vertical feet of material in record time. 

“Before the slide and today, safety remains our first priority,” said Bingham Canyon Mine General Manager Matt Lengerich. “Our workforce has spent more than 19,000 hours during the past six months using remote controlled equipment within our fleet to clear material from the April slide.”

Nearly 6 million tons of material was moved constructing the road. It is nearly three quarters of a mile long, 150-feet wide and cuts right across the slide, making the mine fully accessible once again.

The access road allows haul trucks and other heavy equipment to once again move ore and non-ore-bearing material from the bottom to the top of the mine. It also enables supplies to be transported into the pit, and maintenance performed on the vehicle fleet in the truck maintenance shop.

Across the operation, steady progress continues in the recovery efforts. Since the 165-million-ton April slide, more than 14 million tons of material has been moved from the top of the slide, and material is still being cleared from the sides of the slide to stabilize the area. 

Additional milestones reached include:

  • Ten of the 13 damaged haul trucks have been recovered and four are back in operation.
  • Replacement equipment including haul trucks and drills have been acquired and are now in operation. 

“The progress made to date is remarkable, but we realize that we still face many challenges and have a significant amount of work ahead of us,” said Lengerich. “We anticipate it will be 2016 before we return to normal operations.” 

The following are key recovery objectives that need to be accomplished to return to normal operations by 2016:

  • Continue to stabilize areas within the mine impacted by the slide.
  • Consistently deliver ore by mining in areas of the mine that were not impacted by the slide.

“I am confident in our plan and the capability of our workforce to continue making progress toward our goal of once again being a premier mineral producer,” said Lengerich.

 

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About Rio Tinto Kennecott
As the second largest copper producer in the United States, Rio Tinto Kennecott comprises nearly 25 percent of U.S. copper production. Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon Mine is one of the top producing copper mines in the world with production at more than 19 million tons. In 2011, Kennecott produced 237,300 tons of copper, 379,400 ounces of gold, 3.2 million ounces of silver, 30 million pounds of molybdenum, and 878,300 tons of sulfuric acid. Rio Tinto purchased Kennecott and related facilities in 1989 and has invested more than $2 billion in modernization since that time. Kennecott has also spent more than $350 million on the cleanup of historic mining waste and $100 million on groundwater cleanup. Rio Tinto employs 2,800 people and influences more than 14,000 indirect Utah jobs. In 2011, Kennecott invested $1.2 billion in the state of Utah in wages, benefits, taxes and purchases from nearly 1,000 Utah area businesses. Take a closer look at RioTintoKennecott.com.

About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the United Kingdom, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminum, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and Southern Africa. More at RioTinto.com.