Skip to comments.Inside a mile-deep open-pit copper mine after a catastrophic landslide
Posted on 04/22/2013 12:52:47 PM PDT by dirtboy
For the past few months Ive 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. (Itll 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 minea 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 ...
Wow. And no one hurt. Simply amazing. I wonder if anyone got video.
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.”
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.
How convenient! Now they wont need tons of explosives to to bring down the copper bearing sediments! Copper should be cheaper.
The hillside was laced with seismographic equipment: they knew the slide was coming well in advance.
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.
IIRC that big-ass pile of dirt is/was the spoil heap.
The Empire mine in Michigan is another big one. Looks like the Chinese should have went with a bit shallower slope.
We'll mine the other planets later.
It happened at 9:30 pm, so they would not have video.
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.
of a massive landslide at Bingham Canyon Mine, about 20 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
That’s the mine itself; the spoil heap is elsewhere.
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.
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