BINGHAM CANYON, Salt Lake County — Rio Tinto Kennecott employees were evacuated Tuesday morning after "movement" was detected at the Bingham Canyon Mine, a spokesman confirmed.
The employees left a pit in the southwest portion of the mine around 9 a.m. because movement was detected in a mine pit wall, said Rio Tinto Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett.
Bennett characterized the evacuation as a precaution, saying that in other areas of the mine, "business is running as usual."
"What we’re seeing today certainly is not out of the normal as far as (movements) go by any means," he said.
Bennett said he didn't know when employees would be allowed to return to the affected area. Small slides were also detected March 11 and March 15, causing the affected sections of the mine to be closed off, according to the spokesman.
"We have seen some movement in the area this spring," Bennett said, adding that springtime precipitation is largely responsible.
For a time period after a slide or wall movement, the company uses a "lookout" to keep track of those coming or going into certain areas of the mine, Bennett said
"We have people out there right now watching the area," he said, as an "extra level of protection."
A 165 million-ton landslide at the Bingham Canyon Mine in April 2013 significantly cut into the mine's production capacity. Rio Tinto Kennecott later issued layoffs as a result.
— Ben Lockhart