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UPDATED: Massive Landslide at Bingham Mine – Is this what Pebble will bring?

UPDATE: Quoted from Dow Jones 4/16/2013Closed-Bingham

RIO Tinto has asked employees to take vacation or unpaid leave after a massive landslide at its Bingham Canyon mine in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley, one of the world’s largest copper producing mines.

Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper unit said it has asked for workers to volunteer to take leave because the operation isn’t running at full capacity.

“The slip has destroyed the main access decline into the pit, so a new decline will need to be constructed before mining can resume. We have no guidance from Rio on how long this will take, but we assume it will be months not weeks,” the bank said in a research report.


[Below is from the story originally written 4/13/2013]

A massive landslide occurred this week at the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah. The landslide, something the mine operators saw coming – still caused massive damage – “No employees were injured, but roads, buildings and vehicles inside the pit have been damaged, Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett explained to Deseret News.

Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News

Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News – click on the photo to see more of the images from the landslide at Deseret News

[check out 36 more photos of the landslide and it’s after effects at Deseret News]

Bingham is a copper mine that is often compared to the planned mine in the Bristol Bay area by the Pebble Partnership, Pebble Mine. The proposed Pebble Mine would be twice the size of the Bingham Mine.

In a story for The Mudflats, Carl Johnson wrote: “In its May/June 2011 Pebble Partnership Newsletter, the Pebble Partnership touted recent tours with “stakeholders” of the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah and the Cortez Hills mine of Nevada as examples of how “mines operating under modern regulations are protecting themselves and the environment.”

Pebble Mine will have an earthen containment dam that is 10 square miles wide at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed that will need to last for eternity. If this is what happens at a mine that is currently operational and that has supposedly an ‘excellent’ track record for safety, (unlike the Pebble Partnership companies) what will be done to prevent such a thing from happening at Pebble – which, unlike Bingham is in an active earthquake zone. The landslide itself showed up on the University of Utah seismic recording station at Granite Mountain Vault in Salt Lake City.

Landslide Blog at

Landslide Blog at

According to Trout Unlimited“The dam and 10-square-mile-wide containment pond [at the Pebble Mine] are intended to hold between 2.5 billion and 10 billion tons of mine waste that Pebble would produce over its lifetime – nearly enough to bury the city of Seattle, WA.”

Hat tip to BLDGBLOG

And thank you to Ravell Call, Deseret News for the stunning photos, and thanks to the awesome and extremely interesting ‘Landslide Blog‘ at the American Geophysical Union.



12 Responses to “UPDATED: Massive Landslide at Bingham Mine – Is this what Pebble will bring?”
  1. mike from iowa says:
    I disremember anyone posting this before. Pebble mine will use billions of gallons of water if allowed to operate.

    • mike from iowa says:

      Bingham Canyon Mine is managed by Kennecott Utah Copper Korporation which was named after some town in Alaska aka-Kennecott. (more or less) I did not know that.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      yup. is another piece of the set of issues surrounding the proposal.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Any rumblings from Alaska’s ruling tri-fecta about how safe Pebble mine will be in comparison?

  3. @SamuelMoore says:

    So what’s the problem? Nobody was hurt, no tailings have been leaked, engineers saw this coming and acted accordingly, what are you trying to imply? Oh wait, a landslide happened in a copper mine in Utah, so there’s the connection to Pebble!

    • Jeanne Devon says:

      Let’s see… The problem would be that an earthen dam collapse at a large open pit mine appears to be “foreseeable” and no big deal, and yet the earthen dams at the Pebble site, which will be as tall as the Space Needle, and on an active seismic zone will be holding back millions of gallons of cyanide from the largest wild fishery in North America. And in order to keep from contaminating this fishery, which supports more than 15,000 jobs, it will actually have to NOT collapse forever. Hope that clears things up.

    • mike from iowa says:

      If the engineers at Pebble detect a leak in the damn,are they gonna plug it with their fingers? Seismic activity occurs in Alaska naturally,it isn’t dependemt on a landslide to light up the Richter Scale.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Doesn’t appear Mr Roberts was implying anything. Looks like he was asking a question. a loaded question, but a question nonetheless.
      “Massive Landslide at Bingham Mine – Is this what Pebble will bring?”
      Skimming right on by concerns people have over the proposal/non-proposal/plan/we-don’t-have-a-plan-yet-so-shut-up! routine from PLP here in Alaska may seem cute but it is not- really.
      The company itself , whilst rightfully patting itself on the back for monitoring movement and clearing people out of the way, is saying this slide exceeded all of its scenarios by quite a bit.
      Risk management is a combination of art and science, balancing books, and sometimes a dash of pure wishful thinking. Determining the weight given to each as per judgment for a settled plan needs to be transparent here in Alaska. It is our land. Our water. Our fish.

  4. mike from iowa says:

    Being that I is a curious rascal.I checked for government subsidies and found this-

    Lordgodallmighty start buying mineral rights now!
    P.S. that hole in the ground is so ugly not even I would take it to the Prom.

    • mike from iowa says:

      See if this link works.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Too late, Mikey 🙂

      “Since October 1, 1994, Congress has imposed a budget moratorium on BLM acceptance of any new mineral patent applications. Until the moratorium is lifted, the BLM will not accept any new applications. ”

      Howsomever, 2 valid attempts ( in 2007 and 2009 ) to meaningfully rework the law failed in Congress- one in committee, one passed the House and was never taken up by the Senate.

      As relates to STATE owned land here, there is a general notion that the state is open for business in ways that the Fed increasingly is not. Settled court case (last fall) has DNR reworking its BBAP , Bristol Bay Area Plan. I’m not real optimistic that it will end up being anything but another free pass for mineral extraction though.

  5. BoJoFlo says:

    Wow — This is too close to home!! I live in Utah, and have several relatives/friends who have worked there at Kennecott Copper.

    Pretty scary what is going on here. Thanks for the share.

    Have a nice evening, and Happy Tomorrow.


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