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Kennecott warns community of impending slide at copper mine

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SALT LAKE COUNTY — Kennecott Utah Copper has sent out a warning to their employees and to the surrounding community that they've detected ground movement in the walls of the Bingham Canyon Mine and expect a slide to happen soon.

They aren't able to time it exactly, but they do expect it within the next several days. They're predicting it to look something like the slide that happened back in 2010. It had little impact, but preparing for the slide makes a big difference.

Monitoring unwanted ground movement is crucial whenever dirt and heavy rock are dug up and dumped. So when employees at Kennecott Utah Copper noticed a shift in the northeast wall of the Bingham Canyon Mine back in February they started watching closely.

"We've seen acceleration rates go from fractions of an inch per day up to two inches per day today," said Kyle Bennett from Kennecott Utah Copper.

We don't think the community will see a lot of impact. They may see some dust based on what we've seen with previous slides.

–Kyle Bennett

It's a natural occurring process but it also signaled to Kennecott it was time to redirect their work. 800 employees will continue to mine, but in a new location. The visitor center and a mining monitor and control center have been relocated. And roads have been rerouted. Bennett says there's no need to worry for the surrounding community.

"We don't think the community will see a lot of impact," Bennett said. "They may see some dust based on what we've seen with previous slides."

Bennett says the slide will be self-contained. Over the next several days they'll continue to monitor using lasers, surface sensors, and radars to detect any movement.

These slides don't happen too often. Kennecott says there is no concern to the community; they may just see some dust.


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Devon Dolan


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