Rio Tinto Group intends to invest about $920 million at its Kennecott copper operations in Utah as part of a plan to increase its supply in North America. Demand for the material is set to surge in the coming years due to the global energy transition.
The company said it will invest $498 million to develop an underground mine and infrastructure in an area known as the North Rim Skarn, which will deliver about 250,000 tons of additional mined copper over the next 10 years.
Production from the additional operation will begin in 2024 and will ramp up over two years, the company said in a statement.
“We are investing to build a world class underground mine at Kennecott and strengthen our processing facilities to meet the growing demand for copper in the United States,” Clayton Walker, the chief operating officer of Rio Tinto Copper, said in a statement.
In addition to the new supply, Rio said it will invest $300 million to rebuild the smelter, including a furnace, and another $120 million to upgrade Kennecott’s refinery tank house structure and to update its molybdenum flotation circuit.
(By Joe Deaux)