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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Kennecott Utah Copper says it has discovered a huge deposit of molybdenum beneath its Bingham Canyon Mine.
The company says it's unclear whether it will be feasible to develop a mine to extract the deposit, which is estimated at 500 million tons.
Molybdenum is a byproduct of copper production and is used in high-strength steel alloys. The silvery white metal is also a key ingredient in oil refining.
The company's open-pit mining operation is scratching the surface of the deposit, but the highest value ore lies about 1,500 feet below the pit bottom.
Kennecott parent company Rio Tinto announced about a year ago plans to invest $270 million to build a facility to more deeply process and refine molybdenum ore recovered at the Utah mine.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)