SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Leading global mining group Rio Tinto approved $55 million investment to start underground mining and expand production at its Kennecott copper operations in Utah, U.S. Alongside, it is also trialing and testing battery electric vehicle technology to enhance production and reduce carbon emissions.
According to news release published by the company, the underground mining will initially focus on the Lower Commercial Skarn. This is expected to deliver additional high quality mined copper of around 30kt through 2027. The first ore will be produced in early next year, with full production expected by H2 2023. The ore will be processed through the existing Kennecott facilities.
The investment will help Rio Tinto to quickly bring additional volumes of high quality copper to the market and build its knowledge and capabilities. Kennecott holds untapped resources, which will help it to extend its supply of copper and other critical materials, said Bold Baatar, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto.
The company is currently undertaking feasibility studies to extend open pit mining at Kennecott beyond 2032. Meantime, the feasibility study to inform decisions on the next phase of underground production is also expected to be completed by next year.