Utah Copper Company was incorporated on June 4th, 1903. The mine was created to process low-grade copper ore found in a mountain in Bingham Canyon, about 25 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Most experts of that day said the company would never make money: the ore grade was too low, only 39 pounds of copper per ton of ore. Steam shovels began working on the mountain in 1906. For the next 100 years, shovels, trains and trucks converted that mountain into the world famous Bingham Canyon Mine, a huge open-pit copper mine that is more than three-quarters of a mile deep and more than two and three-quarter miles wide across the top – and still growing.
On June 4, 1981, the Standard Oil Company of Ohio (Sohio) affected a friendly takeover of Kennecott. The new parent company then dissolved Kennecott’s corporate structure and absorbed Carborundum, QIT, Chase Brass and KMC separately into the Sohio organization. The English oil company British Petroleum (BP) owned 53 percent of Sohio at the time of the Kennecott takeover.
The ownership of Kennecott changed one more time in the 1980s when, in 1989, BP agreed to sell most of its worldwide minerals business to the RTZ Corporation (Rio Tinto Zinc), one of the world’s largest mining endeavors. To Kennecott’s advantage, the main business of RTZ was mining and they were able to understand the technical and commercial aspects of the business, unlike an oil company. RTZ Corporation formed a new Kennecott, known as Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation, to operate the Bingham Canyon Mine and other facilities in the Salt Lake Valley.