"We have some cardinal rules about how we take care of those slopes for our workers," he said. "We don't stand under them, and we don't turn our back on them. We respect them."
Mine managers anticipated what section of the mine wall was likely to move, a surface area "a couple thousand feet wide" and just as tall, but the slide traveled deeper into the mine pit than they expected, Himebaugh said.
Teams worked preemptively to clear out an old truck shop that was partially swept away, successfully limiting the damage. However, equipment left stationed at the bottom of the mine to help remove debris was caught and buried when the slide moved deeper than predicted.
About two-thirds of the bottom of the pit was buried, Himebaugh estimated.
Himebaugh said the vast cut made by the slide was quiet as of Thursday afternoon, though teams were monitoring areas high up on the wall that could possibly come down.
"They're nothing like what we have, but we'll watch them very closely," he said. "We're not without any concerns, but we certainly don't see any real movement in that area anymore. It's pretty much over."
Contributing: Shara Park
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