Kennecott prepared for 'possible' copper mine landslide

Kennecott prepared for 'possible' copper mind landslide

(KUTV) Kennecott employees were evacuated from a portion of the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine earlier this week when movement was detected in the area.

Officials say it was a minor incident and mostly precautionary, but they are monitoring another area close by, where we could see activity this spring.

"The key for us is making sure that employees aren't completely isolated in areas where there may be the potential for failure," said Dave Meador, Manager of Mine Operations.

Mine officials say mountain snow melt above the western wall could lead to a "possible" landslide in the next few months, but they will know it's coming.

"We can actually attempt to predict," said Joan Danninger, Manager of Mine Technical Services.

When asked if a possible landslide could mimic the massive slide of 2013, Danninger said, "This is very, very different. We're looking at a very small area. A complete opposite side of the pit."

On Thursday, a drone was flying over the western edge of the pit, capturing high-density photos of the canyon wall.

"That's in areas where we don't have access," said Danninger. "We can't get people to walk out there or it would be unsafe for them to do so."

There are radar systems lining the tops of the canyon.

"We have one system that's pretty high level and monitors the entire pit."

And there are probes buried underground. "It's called an inclinometer and what it does is monitor really small, small movements inside the wall."

Kennecott officials say they have at least seven monitoring systems in place to detect movement.

"We would shut down, keep people safe, keep people out of the area, several days in advance of this happening," said Danninger.

Follow Chris Miller on Twitter @ChrisMillerKUTV for breaking news, updates and more.

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