RPT-UPDATE 2-Rio Tinto unit says Bingham Canyon slide worse than expected

Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:41pm EDT
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* Kennecott says experts not yet granted access to the mine

* Refining, smelting continued as of early Friday

* Impact on operations, time frame to resume still unknown

April 12 (Reuters) - A landslide at Rio Tinto's Bingham Canyon mine in Utah extended further into the pit than predicted, and there was greater damage to equipment than previously estimated, Rio's Kennecott unit said on Friday.

Kennecott Utah Copper, which operates the mine that is near Salt Lake City, said it had not yet determined the impact of the slide, which occurred late on Wednesday, or a time frame for resuming mining operations.

Photos published by Salt Lake City's Deseret News show debris extending from the top of the massive pit mine to its floor, slicing through terraced roads and burying trucks. []

"The size of the slide was significant," the company said in an emailed statement. "We don't have information yet regarding the magnitude or impact. We do know that the flow into the pit extended beyond the scenarios we forecasted, having a greater impact on equipment."

The company said on Thursday that all employees were accounted for and safe.   Continued...