Kennecott slide moved more than 165M tons of dirt

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - More than 165 million tons of rock and dirt came crashing into one of the world's largest open pits in last week's massive landslide that halted operations at the Bingham Canyon Mine.

Kennecott Utah Copper officials released the estimate Tuesday. They also said that they expect copper production at the Bingham Canyon Mine southwest of Salt Lake City will only be half of what was expected this year due to the April 10 landslide, the largest in the history of the mine.

"It was a significant slide," company spokesman Kyle Bennett said.

Two-thirds of the floor of the mile-deep pit was covered by the dirt and rocks, burying some of the company's dump trucks. Officials anticipated the slide and pulled the 37 workers from the area. No one was injured.

There's no estimate of how much the landslide will cost the mine, said Bennett. But they do know that three of the company's 13 shovels and 14 of its 100 trucks were damaged. Some bulldozers and graders were also damaged, Bennett said. How much of the equipment is salvageable is unknown.

"We're optimistic that some of them will only require minor repair," Bennett said.

The company doesn't know when the mine will reopen.

We're optimistic that some of them will only require minor repair.

–Kyle Bennett, Kennecott spokesman

Work resumed Sunday in an area not affected by last week's slide, but there's still a lot of work to be done before operations can resume elsewhere, Bennett said. First, company officials need to assess damage to buildings and equipment. Then, they need to move the rocks and dirt and recreate roads.

Hundreds of mine workers at Kennecott Utah Copper are being asked to take voluntary vacation or unpaid leave. Workers who don't want to take time off will be assigned to jobs outside their usual roles at the Bingham Canyon Mine, Bennett said.


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