Plans to Expand World's Biggest Mine

Kennecott Utah Copper Corp is hoping to extend the life of its Bingham Canyon mine to 2034 by a proposed expansion. The world's biggest mine may get bigger if they get the permission to increase the size of the mine by about 1,000 feet in width and 300 feet in depth.

The Cornerstone Project as it has been dubbed may be producing an additional 700 million tons of ore if the expansion plans were successful. The Utah mine has already produced 18.7 million tons of copper since 1903. It also produces refined gold, refined silver and molybdenum, a metallic element, used to toughen steel.

Over 2,400 people are employed by Kennecott in Utah as per figures from 2009. Kennecott's parent company Rio Tinto is planning to file a notice of intent with the state to update and renew its land, water, air and tailing permits. It will need between 20 to 70 updates for primary environmental permits.

This may not be as easy as it sounds as the Environmental Protection Agency has pegged the Kennecott Utah Copper mine as the biggest toxic polluter in the United States.

The world famous Bingham Canyon Mine has produced more copper than any other mine in history. It is one of two man made objects seen from space. To give you some idea about the size of this mine, it’s three-quarters of a mile deep and more than 2 3/4 miles across at the top. Image Credit: Kennecott Utah Copper Corp

About the Mine

  • Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine has produced more copper than any mine in history - about 18.1 million tons.
  • The mine is 2-3/4 miles across at the top and 3/4 of a mile deep. You could stack two Sears Towers (now known as the Willis Building) on top of each other and still not reach the top of the mine.
  • The mine is so big, it can be seen by the space shuttle astronauts as they pass over the United States.
  • By 2015, the mine will be at least 500 feet deeper than it is now.
  • If you stretched out all the roads in the open pit mine, you'd have 500 miles of roadway - enough to reach from Salt Lake City to Denver.

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