Workers evacuated after movement detected in canyon wall at Bingham mine

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 23:33:36-04

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah -- Three years ago the largest land slide in mining history took place in South Jordan as 165 million tons of rubble came tumbling down at the Bingham Canyon Mine.

On Tuesday, that mine had to evacuate dozens of workers in fear of another slide.

Mine operators, Rio Tinto Kennecott, said there was not a land slide, however there was movement in the wall of the canyon in one specific area.

Kennecott has installed high-tech censors and other monitoring equipment across the canyon to watch for these types of emergencies.

"We're able to use that data to make both short term and long term decisions and ensure the safety of our people," said Kyle Bennett, of Rio Tinto Kennecott. "We saw some pit wall movement in the southwest corner of the mine. As a safety precaution we shut down the lower pit and we removed all the employees from the area to ensure their safety."

Kennecott officials say this type of wall movement is not unheard of, especially this time of year.

"We get a lot of de-thawing and a lot of moisture from the snow melt, actually makes it a very common occurrence in this area of the mine, so this is something we've seen in the area in previous years," Bennett said.

Kennecott will continue to study the movement and should have a better understanding of any long term affects within the next few days.

"Nobody is going to go back to work until it is safe enough for them to do so," Bennett said.

It's only a small portion of the canyon that has been shut down, the rest of the mine is business as usual.