Rio Tinto Kennecott launches $2 million pilot project for south slope tailings facility

Kennecott proactively launched a pilot dewatering project based on newly released science to accelerate the stabilization of its south tailings facility. The project is designed to enable the facility to withstand a catastrophic earthquake and eliminate run-out from Kennecott’s property.

Using input from three independent third-party geotechnical experts and Kennecott’s own studies, the company will install wells to pump water out of the tailings facility. The pilot will be completed in six to 12 months. Based on the results, Kennecott will install additional wells in 2017 and 2018. Within two years, these proactive steps can mitigate the risk of tailings slowly depositing onto Highway 201 in the event of a catastrophic earthquake.

Kennecott has spent more than $500 million dollars in the past 20 years to continuously improve the stability of the south tailings facility, and a 2010 independent study by Salt Lake County verified these efforts have been effective. The pilot project is designed to build on that work and create even greater stability.

Kennecott constantly evaluates its operations and stays informed about new studies and the latest science.