Rio Tinto suspends Kennecott operations following earthquake

The Kennecott mine. Image: Copyright © 2018 Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has felt the impact of a 5.7-magnitude earthquake at the Kennecott copper mine near Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States.

The company endured limited damage to the operation and limited risk to the surrounding community but a detailed inspection of the complex continued.

This would be performed in conjunction with the local emergency services and Utah Department of Transportation.

All employees have been safely accounted for and evacuated from potential risk areas.

Rio Tinto has temporarily halted all operations at Kennecott. It also closed the State Road 201 freeway while the inactive South tailings storage facility was being inspected.

“This is an inactive historic tailings storage facility that is stable and being actively monitored and managed, under a plan reviewed and endorsed by a panel of independent geotechnical experts and Utah’s dam regulatory authorities,” Rio Tinto stated.

Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat added: “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.”

Rio Tinto employs more than 1900 employees at the Kennecott mine.

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