It was appropriate that a six-inch ribbon of copper was used Friday during a ceremony marking the completion of a $400 million modernization project at Kennecott Utah Copper.
Armed with a pair of large scissors, Robert B. Horton and Patrick J. Gillam, two managing directors for British Petroleum Co., parent company of BP Minerals America, G. Frank Joklik, BP Minerals president, and Gov. Norm Bangerter helped cut the gleaming ribbon.Bangerter said, "The past few years have been challenging for anyone in the mining business, particularly in Utah, and I congratulate those who have hung on. On behalf of the state, I thank the company for upgrading the operation in recent years to meet increasing air and water standards rather than close down as many copper companies have done."
Following the ceremony, the company hosted about 500 people at a luncheon in the parking lot of the new concentrator building, a major facility in the modernization project that is expected to keep Kennecott producing copper far into the next century.
The day began with a company-sponsored breakfast at Little America Hotel when Ramon Rao, vice president of engineering and construction for BP Minerals, who supervised the project, provided a briefing on the new facilities.
Then the company officials, government officials, labor union leaders, the news media, business and civic leaders, suppliers, contractors and vendors boarded buses for a look at the new structures.
From a platform deep inside the copper mine, the guests watched a 170-ton diesel truck dump its load of copper ore into the new gyratory crusher, where the material is broken down to pieces no larger than 10 inches in diameter. From the same platform they saw the crushed material fall onto the start of a five-mile conveyor belt that carries the ore to the concentrator.
The conveyor passes through an old railroad tunnel out of the mine and the busloads of visitors rode alongside the conveyor after it exited the tunnel. They saw the material head for an area near the concentrator where 350,000 tons of ore are stored.
From the bottom of the stockpile the material falls onto other conveyor belts and heads inside the concentrator. Once inside, the material is crushed again - this time into a powder about the consistency of face powder - mixed with water and pumped through a six-inch pipeline 17 miles to the old Garfield Smelter.
After the copper is separated from the water, a second pipeline sends the water back to the concentrator for recycling.
The facilities of the modernization project, which was announced in December 1985, have undergone extensive testing for several months and bringing them to designed capacity coincides with the ribbon-cutting.
The copper pit, which was the focus of one of Utah's major industries for many years, was shut down in March 1985 in the face of declining copper prices and heavy production costs. But after obtaining concessions from labor unions in 1986, BP Minerals recalled some workers to restart the operation with existing facilities.