Potential underground mining would happen concurrently with open-pit operations, in response to the corporate.
“Kennecott holds the potential for a major and engaging underground growth, with declared Mineral Sources of 20 Mt at 3.65% copper and 1.62 g/t gold with additional upside potential primarily based on drilling,” Rio Tinto mentioned in a launch.
The feasibility research work will concentrate on gathering crucial geological, geotechnical and hydrogeological information to tell Rio Tinto’s evaluation of underground growth choices and is predicted to be accomplished in 2024.
Present infrastructure from earlier underground initiatives might be prolonged to entry the North Rim Skarn orebody, permitting for the event of crosscuts and additional drilling of the useful resource.
The challenge consists of roughly 15,000 toes (4,500 metres) of lateral growth, 1,000 toes (300 metres) of vertical growth and related help infrastructure.
The challenge may even embody the trial of underground battery electrical autos to scale back carbon emissions at Kennecott.
In response to Rio Tinto, pre-feasibility research are additionally being progressed to increase open pit mining at Kennecott past 2032.
“Kennecott holds a variety of choices to increase our provide of copper and different crucial supplies, to satisfy the robust demand being pushed by electrical autos and renewable energy applied sciences,” mentioned Rio Tinto Copper chief government Daring Baatar.
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“The operation is uniquely positioned to provide these rising markets, with one in every of solely two working smelters in america that additionally processes concentrates from third events, a protracted historical past delivering high-quality merchandise and important assets which are but to be developed.”
Rio Tinto purchased Kennecott in 1989 and has invested greater than $2 billion in modernizing the mine and one other $450 million to scrub up historic workings and groundwater.
Bingham Canyon, 30 miles south of Salt Lake Metropolis, has been mined since 1906. The mine has produced extra copper than any mine in historical past – greater than 19 million tonnes.