Rio Tinto halts Kennecott copper mine operations after earthquake

19 March 2020 (Last Updated March 19th, 2020 11:23)

Global mining firm Rio Tinto has temporarily halted operations at its Kennecott copper mine in Utah, US, due to a magnitude 5.7 earthquake close to the town of Magna.

Rio Tinto halts Kennecott copper mine operations after earthquake
Rio Tinto’s Kennecott operations in the US. Credit: © Rio Tinto.

Global mining firm Rio Tinto has temporarily halted operations at its Kennecott copper mine in Utah, US, due to a magnitude 5.7 earthquake close to the town of Magna.

Kennecott mine is an integrated copper mining operation located just outside Salt Lake City.

According to the company, all the employees have been safely accounted for and evacuated from the major risk areas.

Rio Tinto has identified limited damage or risk associated with the mine operation and the surrounding community.

The company noted that the temporary suspension is in line with standard operating procedures that had previously been agreed with the Utah Department of Transportation.

Currently, inspection of the mining complex is being conducted with the local emergency services as well as Utah’s Department of Transportation.

Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat said: “The safety of our employees and wider community is our first priority and having ensured that all our employees are safe and the operations are shut, we are now working with the local emergency services and regulators to ensure the asset is safe before resuming any operations.”

In December last year, Rio Tinto said that it is set to continue Kennecott copper mine production with an investment of $1.5bn over a period of six years.

Earlier this week, measures put in place by Mongolian authorities to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak have restricted operations at Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi mine, causing a slowdown in production.

Last month, Rio Tinto said it was facing a slowdown in copper concentrate shipments from Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine as efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak affected the company’s product flows to China.