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Inside a mile-deep open-pit copper mine after a catastrophic landslide
BoingBoing ^ | 4/22/2013 | Tim Heffernan

Posted on 04/22/2013 12:52:47 PM PDT by dirtboy

For the past few months I’ve been reporting a big story on the copper industry for Pacific Standard. It takes a broad look at how the global economic boom of the past decade, led by China and India, is pushing copper mining into new regions and new enormities of investment and excavation. (It’ll be out in June.) But a few days ago a very local event shook the copper industry, and I thought it would be neat to look at how a crisis at a single mine can ripple through space and time, ultimately affecting just about everyone around the globe.

Above is a picture, from local news channel KSL, of a massive landslide at Bingham Canyon Mine, about 20 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

Bingham is an open-pit mine—a gigantic hole in the ground. The landslide, in effect, was the collapse of one of the pit walls. (For scale, the pit is a bit less than three miles wide and a bit more than three-quarters of a mile deep, and as you can see, the collapse stretches halfway across it and all the way from top to bottom.) KSL has more pictures here, and Kennecott Utah Copper, the subsidiary of the mining giant Rio Tinto which runs Bingham Canyon, has a spectacular Flickr set here. Check ’em out.

The landslide went off at about 9:30 in the evening on Wednesday, April 11. It was expected: like most modern mines, Bingham has redundant sensor systems (radar, laser, seismic, GPS) that measure ground movement down to the millimeter and give plenty of warning when a collapse is imminent. The mine was evacuated about 12 hours before the landslide, and nobody was hurt.

(Excerpt) Read more at boingboing.net ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; US: Utah
KEYWORDS: copper
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1 posted on 04/22/2013 12:52:47 PM PDT by dirtboy
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To: thackney

ping


2 posted on 04/22/2013 12:55:01 PM PDT by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy

Wow. And no one hurt. Simply amazing. I wonder if anyone got video.


3 posted on 04/22/2013 12:55:27 PM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: dirtboy

Very slight echoes of Francisco d’Anconia’s unfortunate adventure with the San Sebastian mines. “Your enormous investment in my copper mines? So sorry. The mine swallowed your investment. There will be no copper for you.”


4 posted on 04/22/2013 12:58:56 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The ballot box is a sham. Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: Lurker

Read the article at the link. Rio Tinto was in the process of taking operations underground, and the landslide buried where that work was being done. This could have economic ripple effects for some time.


5 posted on 04/22/2013 12:59:00 PM PDT by dirtboy
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To: blam

copper ping


6 posted on 04/22/2013 1:02:30 PM PDT by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy

How convenient! Now they wont need tons of explosives to to bring down the copper bearing sediments! Copper should be cheaper.


7 posted on 04/22/2013 1:02:56 PM PDT by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: Lurker

More pics:

http://blog.skytruth.org/2013/04/landslide-at-bingham-canyon-mine-utah.html


8 posted on 04/22/2013 1:04:49 PM PDT by dirtboy
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To: Lurker

The hillside was laced with seismographic equipment: they knew the slide was coming well in advance.


9 posted on 04/22/2013 1:05:31 PM PDT by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
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To: dirtboy

Wow, thanks for the ping.

I’ve been to big boron mining operation in Death Valley. My father and his family were all coal miners.


10 posted on 04/22/2013 1:06:08 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Red_Devil 232

IIRC that big-ass pile of dirt is/was the spoil heap.


11 posted on 04/22/2013 1:06:12 PM PDT by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
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To: dirtboy

The Empire mine in Michigan is another big one. Looks like the Chinese should have went with a bit shallower slope.


12 posted on 04/22/2013 1:07:03 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: dirtboy
I’ve been to big boron borax mining operation in Death Valley.
13 posted on 04/22/2013 1:07:48 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: dirtboy
Earth First!

We'll mine the other planets later.

14 posted on 04/22/2013 1:08:06 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Lurker

It happened at 9:30 pm, so they would not have video.


15 posted on 04/22/2013 1:09:10 PM PDT by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy
Considering the price of copper lately, this could end up being a profitable event for Kennecott.

Given the 12 hours' notice, can you imagine the phone calls? I'll bet somebody made out like a bandit.

In a rational world, the traders would be subscribing to companies installing landslide warning devices worldwide. It would be cheaper than the extra insurance, or the bureaucrats.

16 posted on 04/22/2013 1:09:36 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (An economy is not a zero-sum game, but politics usually is.)
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To: cripplecreek
Looks like the Chinese should have went with a bit shallower slope.

Not Chinese.

of a massive landslide at Bingham Canyon Mine, about 20 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

17 posted on 04/22/2013 1:12:48 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Red_Devil 232
I believe that slumped heap was the non-copper bearing soil and rock they removed from the hole. It re-buried some of the operations, not exposed it.
18 posted on 04/22/2013 1:14:26 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: agere_contra

That’s the mine itself; the spoil heap is elsewhere.


19 posted on 04/22/2013 1:19:50 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Red_Devil 232

Exactly my thoughts. All they should have to do is re-excavate the roads and they can start scooping up all the fill at the bottom. I say they’re back in operation in 60 days -fed regs and permits notwithstanding.


20 posted on 04/22/2013 1:20:26 PM PDT by Justa
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