BINGHAM CANYON — Limited mining activity has resumed at Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine, three days after a massive landslide.
But company officials say the activity is in an area that wasn't effected by the slide, called "the cornerstone," and has nothing to do with the actual mining of ore.
Rio Tinto's Kenecott Utah Copper spokesman Justin Jones said mining of "waste rock" resumed about 1 a.m. Saturday in the southeastern part of the mine. This is rock that is cleared that has no value, to get to the ground that contains ore, he said. It marks the first activity in the mine since the slide Wednesday night.
The massive slide registered as a magnitude 2.4 shake at the University of Utah seismograph station. Pictures taken from KSL Chopper 5 have amazed viewers and readers. But the slide's exact dimensions had not yet been determined.
On Saturday, Jones said crews still were not allowed to get to the mine floor. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has ordered work in that area stopped until further notice. Jones hoped that crews would be able to get to bottom of the pit by next week.
No further movement of the mine had been recorded as of Saturday.
"It is essential for us to get back to work and get up and running as soon as possible," Jones said.
Until then, all employees have been instructed to show up to work as normal, he said.
A couple of times each year, the mine shuts down to retrofit and upgrade, Jones said. The mine is going ahead with those operations now while the actual mining operation is shutdown. He said workers would also be assigned other duties, and as of now there would be no layoffs.
Jones did not know Saturday when regular mining might resume.
No one was injured in the massive slide, thanks to ground movement detectors that had been indicating unusually high slope movement. Kennecott had announced Tuesday, prior to the slide, that the visitors center would be closed for the remainder of 2013 because of the slope movement. Accelerated movement had been detected first back in February.
It was still unclear Saturday what caused the massive slide.