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Rio halts Kennecott operations after earthquake

Kennecott mine. (Image: Kennecott Rio Tinto.)

Rio Tinto’s Kennecott copper mine near Salt Lake City, Utah was impacted Wednesday as a result of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake close to the town of Magna.

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

Rio has identified limited damage to the operation or risk to the surrounding community. As a precaution, all operations have been temporarily halted, it said, in line with standard procedures pre-agreed with the Utah Department of Transportation.

A detailed inspection of the complex is currently being conducted with the local emergency services and Utah Department of Transportation.

As a precaution, all operations have been temporarily halted

“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,” Rio’s copper & diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat said in the statement.

“We are now working with the local emergency services and regulators to ensure the asset is safe before resuming any operations.”

In December, Rio Tinto announced it is spending $1.5 billion to expand Kennecott and extend the life of the more-than 100-year-old open-pit mine from 2026 through to 2032. Kennecott accounts for nearly one fifth of the US copper production, and its iconic Bingham Canyon mine is one of the world’s top producing operations.

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