Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bingham Canyon - most expensive landslide of all time?


Various estimates are rolling in, but they all point to the growing recognition that the wall collapse in the Bingham Canyon copper mine outside Salt Lake City, will be the most expensive landslide in history.   Dave Petley who does his usual superb job at the Landslide blog bringing together all the best information and insights, reports the Wall Street Journal estimates a loss of $770 million in revenue to mine owner Rio Tinto.   

Utah State Geologist Rick Allis told us this afternoon that "This may end up being the nation's most costly landslide - the 1983 Thistle landslide in Utah previously had this dubious distinction ($200 million in dollars of the day; probably $400M - $500M in today's terms).  The scale is hard to comprehend,  but since Bingham is a ~$1 billion/year operation, and they lost over a dozen of those large-haul trucks [right, http://imgur.com/gallery/Btvfi.  Courtesy, Landslide blog] and several power shovels, the ultimate numbers will be large. Apparently those trucks had been shifted the previous day to a ledge on the far side of the pit about 300 feet above the bottom of the pit and were thought to be safe."

Dave Petley points out that the mine produces 17% of copper in the US and 1% worldwide and that some analysts warn that "the event might cause an increase in global copper prices, but so far this does not seem to have occurred."

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