Rio declares force majeure on Kennecott shipments after earthquake

Rio Tinto has enforced a force majeure on copper cathode contracts for the Kennecott mine in Utah, the United States, after an earthquake last month caused an emergency shutdown at the smelter.

Force majeure is a contractual clause which absolves the relevant parties from honouring the terms of the contract due to an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond their control.

Rio Tinto stated that it had decided to declare force majeure on Kennecott shipments after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake impacted the operations on March 18.

“We are working to restart Kennecott’s smelter after the emergency shutdown in response to the earthquake and working with our customers to minimise any disruption in supply,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson said.

Rio Tinto produced 186,800 tonnes of copper at the Kennecott smelter near Salt Lake City last year, which also produces gold and silver as byproducts from its operations.

In December, Rio Tinto announced its plan to invest $1.5 billion to expand the Kennecott operation and extend its life of mine through to 2032.

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