On the radar at Bingham Canyon: anticipating mine wall slides

May 21, 2013 | 09:35 AM | Andrea Hotter

Tags  Bingham Canyon, Kennecott Utah Copper, wall slide, copper, mike lengerich, GroundProbe, Ibis, andrea hotter

SALT LAKE CITY — Radar, prisms and robots would seem more appropriate in the latest Hollywood blockbuster than in a mine in Utah, but exactly this kind of technology helped Rio Tinto Plc’s Kennecott Utah Copper avert what could have been a major human catastrophe last month.

Kennecott, which operates the vast Bingham Canyon Mine near Salt Lake City, for years has used the most advanced technology available to detect, monitor and plan for slides, an infrequent but anticipated occurrence in mining.

Kennecott was particularly vigilant at part of the northeastern wall of Bingham Canyon, the location of a geologic structured element known as the Main Fe Fault. It was here that one of the biggest mine wall slides in history took place April 10, which despite the collapse of around 150 million tonnes of overburden into the pit resulted in no human casualties.

The company uses a combination of GroundProbe radar, Ibis radar and a prism network to give it comprehensive data on even the slightest movement in the mine slopes, Bingham Canyon Mine general manager Matt Lengerich told AMM. The mine also uses extensometers—which measure displacements on highwalls—to monitor very specific, localized changes.....

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