Salt Lake City, Utah
Our Kennecott mine is a world-class, integrated copper mining operation located just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States. Kennecott has been mining and processing minerals from the rich ore body of the Bingham Canyon Mine since 1903, and is even today one of the top producing mines in the world. Our operation also includes a concentrator, smelter and refinery.
Reducing our carbon footprint
In 2019, after 75 years of operation, Kennecott retired its coal-fired power plant in Magna, Utah. Power for the operation will come from renewable energy certificates purchased from Rocky Mountain Power – primarily from wind and solar resources.
Closing the plant and acquiring renewable energy certificates will remove more than one million tons of carbon dioxide every year from Kennecott’s Wasatch Front operations, reducing its annual carbon footprint by as much as 65%.
The renewable energy certificate program is Green-e Energy certified, and meets the environmental and consumer-protection standards set by the Center for Resource Solutions.
Improving energy efficiency
At Kennecott, we continue to look for new ways to improve energy efficiency and increase our on-site-generated power supply. The $10 million, 6.2 MW combined heat and power (CHP) system – large enough to power 6,000 average-sized homes – is one example of how we are doing this: Generating enough power to supply up to 50% of the electrical needs of the refinery.
CHP, also known as cogeneration, is an efficient, clean and reliable way to generate power from a single fuel source.
In 2020, the Kennecott operation became the first in the world to be awarded the Copper Mark, the industry’s first and only independent assurance programme – verifying the copper is responsibly produced. Originally developed by the International Copper Association with input from stakeholders including customers, NGOs and producers, the Copper Mark assures the copper meets the highest environmental and social standards, including a transparent and responsible supply chain.
We approved $1.5 billion investment (100 per cent basis) to continue production at Kennecott in 2019. The investment over the next six years will extend our operations at Kennecott to 2032.
The investment will further extend strip waste rock mining and support additional infrastructure development in the second phase of the South Wall Pushback project, to allow mining to continue into a new area of the ore body and deliver close to one million tonnes of refined copper between 2026 and 2032.
With this project, we have now invested more than $5.0 billion in modernisation, environmental stewardship and mine-life extension initiatives since we acquired Kennecott in 1989.
Kennecott has transformed acreage once dominated by over-grazed lands, salt evaporation ponds and illegal dumps into a 3,670-acre shorebird and waterfowl reserve along the south shore of Great Salt Lake.
In 1996, we helped to create the Kennecott Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve (ISSR) under a mitigation plan and today, the reserve is one of the largest and most successful mitigations in the United States. The number of bird species using the reserve area has gone from 50 in 1995 to 200 – a 300% increase – and today, approximately 120,000 birds use the reserve every year.
Our commitment to making a positive impact in the communities in which we operate – and where so many of our employees live – is an important part of how we do business. For example, we have been working with the Natural History Museum of Utah for more than 40 years on award-winning science education programs, community enrichment initiatives and exhibits about the natural world. In 2008, we donated copper, which today, adorns the outside of the Museum’s home at the Rio Tinto Center.
Rio Tinto Kennecott
4700 Daybreak Parkway
South Jordan Utah 84009
T: + 801 204 2000