Monday, April 15, 2013

Wall slide at Utah's Bingham Canyon copper mine expected to cut production

A giant slide on the wall of the Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah shut down the mine operations last Wednesday night. Kennecott Utah Copper has posted an extensive set of photos online.   [Photo credit, Kennecott Utah Copper]

Kennecott had been monitoring ground movement and taken steps to restrict public and employee access to areas that could be impacted by a slide, however, the slide appears to be bigger than they expected as it buried mining equipment that had been moved out of the expected pathway.

Subsequently, Rio Tinto, parent of Kennecott Utah Copper, said the company was refining stockpiled material but did not predict when production might resume.

Reuters said  "Kennecott is the second-largest copper producer in the United States, and Bingham Canyon, one of the world's largest open pits, produced 163,200 tonnes of copper last year, as well as 200,000 ounces of gold."   They quote BMO Capital Marketsanalyst Tony Robson that between "80,000 and 160,000 tonnes of copper could be lost this year, and production could be affected in 2014 and 2015 as well."

I have not seen predictions of what this could mean for the US and international copper markets.   Arizona produces about 2/3 of the copper used in the US.

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