After six months of intensive work, the Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation now has top-to-bottom access within the Bingham Canyon Mine after the largest landslide in mining history.
A newly-completed road marks a significant milestone for the corporation and provides access to deep within the mine.
The road was only feasible after extensive cleanup efforts of the 165-million-ton slide that happened in April. More than 14 million tons of fallen material has been moved since the slide and refuse is still being cleared to stabilize the area.
"The road that we just opened will be really critical because of some of the things that we have to do," said Kyle Bennett, media relations for Kennecott Utah Copper. "We have to continue to move material at the bottom of the mine from the slide, we will have to continue to recover equipment buried in that, and we're going to continue to clean up areas around the slide as well in an effort to stabilize those areas."
Officials from the mine told media the mine’s workforce has spent more than 19,000 hours during the last six months to clear material from the slide.
More than 1,900 vertical feet of material was moved to construct the road. It was finished six months before schedule and is approximately three quarters of a mile long, 150-feet wide and cuts across the slide area.
"Our employees have rallied in a singular effort to move forward for recovery," said Bennett. "Without them and their hard work, their ingenuity, we wouldn't be this far along and so we really appreciate that and we're really confident in them and their ability to help us get through this."
Though the access road is a huge accomplishment for the mine, it is projected Bingham Canyon Mine will not return to full normal operations until 2016.