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Kennecott given access to Bingham lower pit

Keywords: Tags  Kennecott, copper, Bingham Canyon, wall slide, Rio Tinto, output, Andrea Hotter

NEW YORK — Kennecott Utah Copper has been given the go-ahead to access portions of the Bingham Canyon Mine affected by a recent wall slide, including the lower pit, but the company does not plan to resume work yet.

Limited ore hauling is taking place, using 40-tonne trucks, from a stockpile near the mine to the Copperton concentrator, the company said.

"Though the Mining Safety Health Administration has released Kennecott to access portions of the mine, Kennecott’s geotechnical experts are doing their own assessment and will continue to take a measured approach before resuming work in the mine to ensure safety," it said in a statement. "Kennecott’s experts will be using remote-controlled equipment to evaluate portions of lower Bingham Canyon Mine to assess the area."

Kennecott, a subsidiary of London-based Rio Tinto Plc, declared force majeure on shipments of copper cathode from Bingham after an April 10 wall slide forced it to halt production (, April 16).

April shipments of copper cathode are continuing as planned, but May shipments from inventory at its refinery will be at a reduced level. The company is still producing cathode at its refinery using stockpiled inventory (, April 12).

The slide is expected to lower mined and refined copper output across Rio Tinto’s operations this year by 125,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes, respectively, the group said.

Employees across the operation have been asked to voluntarily take vacation or unpaid time off while the company assesses the near-term business impacts of the slide.

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