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(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nearly six months ahead of schedule, top-to-bottom access within the Bingham Canyon Mine returns with the opening of Kennecottís new 150-foot-wide mine access ramp. On Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, mine operators granted access to see the progress that has been made with 14 million tons of material removed so far following the 150 million ton slide that occurred April 10. The slide will be a topic of discussion at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Inc. meeting happening Feb. 23-27.
Kennecott slide will be hot topic at mining meeting
Convention » Site tour, technical sessions will look at the catastrophic collapse.
First Published Feb 21 2014 07:53 am • Last Updated Feb 21 2014 04:57 pm

Last April’s massive landslide in Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon mine will figure prominently among issues discussed when 5,500 members of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Inc. meet in Salt Lake City.

A field trip to the mine, which has been operating at reduced capacity since April 10, 2013 when a pair of slides moved 165 million tons of material into the bottom of the mine’s pit, is part of the annual convention, which runs Sunday through Thursday at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

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Building ties

The Boys Scouts of America will unveil a new merit badge, Mining in Society, on Wednesday to culminate the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration’s annual meeting. The society has worked for a decade to get the Scouts to create the badge as a means of fostering “understanding about the positive impact mining and minerals make on the American quality of life,” said spokesman John Hayden.

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Two technical sessions also will address the slides, which triggered earthquakes, according to University of Utah seismologists.

In the first, at 2 p.m. Monday, Kennecott will provide an overview of the first slide, describe the geotechnical-monitoring system employed to detect ground movement anywhere on the flanks of the expansive pit, preparations taken beforehand, efforts to remediate the slide site and the logistics of keeping other parts of the mine working while the cleanup is done.

The focus shifts Tuesday to safety issues, redoing mine plans and to company perceptions that the slide enhanced productivity and teamwork.

Conference activities begin Monday morning with a panel discussion on "Community Engagement: Building Partnerships for Mining."

The panelists have diverse backgrounds, said society spokesman John Hayden. The Wildlife Habitat Council, Conservation International and Africare will be represented along with the International Council on Mining and Metals, Newmont Mining Corp., Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp.

In all, the conference will feature 700 professional papers, 800 exhibit booths and participants from 30 countries. It is projected to contributed $5 million in direct spending to Utah’s economy.

Salt Lake City is a natural place for the society to meet, said its executive director, David Kanagy.

Since mineral deposits are found in 24 of the state’s 29 counties, he said "Utah provides many critical raw materials that support myriad market sectors from communications and transportation to energy and electronics, recreation to agriculture."

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