Rio Tinto Kennecott has opened a major access road, restoring full access to Bingham Canyon mine. Kennecott officials say the opening comes months ahead of schedule, but they say it will still take about two years to restore the mine to normal operations.
Where once there was a massive slide, now a road cuts through. Trucks as big as houses motor along back and forth from the mine. Matt Lengerich General Manager of the Bingham Canyon Mine, says it was no small feat to build the new mine access ramp.
A hearing is underway this afternoon in federal court on a challenge to Kennecott’s plan to expand the Bingham Canyon copper mine. Representatives from Utah Moms for Clean Air, Wild Earth Guardians, the Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment all say Kennecott can’t move ahead with its expansion without approval from the Environmental Protection Agency. Doctor Brian Moench says that’s needed even though the Utah Division of Air Quality has already signed off on it.
Workers at Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper are breathing a sigh of relief after mine officials announced today there would not be another big layoff. A recent landslide at the Bingham Canyon Mine has forced the company to drastically reduce production and layoff some administrative staff.
About 100 employees at Kennecott Utah Copper have been laid off as a result of last month’s slide at the Bingham Canyon Mine. Kennecott spokesperson Kyle Bennett says the layoffs affected employees across the ranks of the mine’s salaried workforce. None were union employees, though he says some hourly workers will have to be let go before the end of the month.
Kennecott Utah Copper is making plans to get the Bingham Canyon mine back in operation after a huge landslide two weeks ago. Company spokesperson Kyle Bennett says they have a 40-day plan to look at containing costs but also keeping the ore moving to the smelting and refining facilities.
The early estimates of the size of the Bingham Canyon mine slide show that more than 165 million tons of rock and dirt have slid into the bottom of the mine. That makes this slide the largest to ever happen there. Kennecott Utah Copper spokesperson, Kyle Bennett, says it will have a large impact on their yearly copper production.
"The 165 million ton slide does translate, unfortunately, into a reduced production of refined and mined copper of about 50 percent,” he says.
Ground movement at the Bingham Canyon Mine resulted in a landslide last night. The slide occurred around 9:30 p.m. on the North side of the mine near where the visitor’s center was previously located. Kennecott Utah Copper spokesman Kyle Bennett says all employees at the mine are safe and accounted for. All work at the mine has also been suspended until geotechnical experts get a better assessment of the situation.
The air pollution that we can see suspended in the cold air trapped during Utah’s infamous temperature inversions is called PM 2.5 – particulate matter 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. Just how much of that comes from large industrial polluters is a subject of some dispute, along with just what should be done about it. Dan Bammes has the third in our series of reports on Clearing the Air.