Officials at Kennecott Utah Copper are “re-evaluating” plans for Bingham Canyon, after the mine experienced a massive slide of its northeast wall April 10 at 9:30 p.m. Preemptive measures were taken leading up to the slide. The mining company reported that all employees were safely evacuated and accounted for.
Movement was contained within the mine. As a result of ongoing monitoring with sophisticated geotechnical equipment, company experts identified the movement and took immediate actions prior to the event. Company officials stressed a commitment to employees—encompassing Utah’s largest private sector workforce—during re-evaluation. “We understand there will be some difficult decisions to move forward and resume operations,” company officials said in a statement. “We are considering our workforce in every decision we make.”
Through laser scanners and visuals—some provided via a local television news helicopter—Kennecott is coordinating with Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials for safe access to the legendary 109-year-old mine. Kennecott has visually confirmed minimal equipment damage—including three shovels, 14 haul trucks and ancillary equipment including drills, bulldozers and graders; equipment recoverability remains under assessment. The company has also invoked force majeure for copper cathode and sulphuric acid production; however, limited-scale operations have resumed in the unaffected southeast portion of the mine.
Company representatives emphasized they were aware of the impending slide—having detected geological movements since February—and that nearby residents were warned accordingly; in the days before the slide, engineers measured movements of up to 2 inches daily.