Managing environmental impacts through concurrent reclamation

At Rio Tinto Kennecott, we’re committed to minimizing our environmental impacts with an eye on the future. We’re actively doing that through our concurrent reclamation efforts which can be seen in action on the historic east-facing waste rock piles of the Bingham Canyon Mine.

Since 2015, reclamation has been taking place on the lower-outer face of the mine to enhance the aesthetics of areas visible from the Salt Lake Valley and to provide optionality for future mining. To date, we have invested $150 million to date on the Alternative View Project, where we have moved approximately 350 million tons of waste rock to reshape the waste rock piles, and re-graded and seeded about 400 acres. We’ve also finished constructing 35 stormwater basins to manage surface water runoff from the mine’s face. Each of these basins is designed to manage a 100-year, 24-hour rain event.

350M tons waste rock moved400 Acres Regraded

Why concurrent reclamation

Concurrent reclamation means we’re reclaiming land that is no longer needed for the operation while we are still mining.

We understand that it’s better for the environment and our community to invest in concurrent reclamation rather than postpone this work to the future. That’s why we’ve been doing it for the past 25 years. We’ve restored more than 11,500 acres of historic mining land because we’re committed to minimizing the environmental impacts of our operation and investing in this work throughout the life of the mine.

How waste rock concurrent reclamation works

Waste rock is the uneconomic material that is moved as part of the mining process to access ore-bearing rock. These materials are placed in specifically sited, engineered and permitted facilities. The Alternative View Project is reclaiming the lower parts of the south and east waste rock piles using waste rock that we are currently mining.

By using waste rock we are removing inside the mine, we have an opportunity to reshape the south and east waste rock piles, which fulfills an environmental and an operational need. We need a location to put the current waste rock, and we need additional material to reshape and contour the slope to blend with the natural environment.

Once the slope is reshaped, we place cover soil over the top in preparation for seeding. Vegetation can already be seen in the areas that have been seeded. Eventually, the native plants will blend in with the rest of the vegetation in the Oquirrh Mountains.

We anticipate finalizing reclamation of many of the lower lifts of the waste rock piles in the next seven to 10 years and will continue reclaiming each of the following lifts as access becomes available.

Waste rock reclamation process