Kennecott Visitors Center Set To Reopen 5 Years After Landslide

Sep 19, 2018, 11:34 AM

COPPERTON, Utah – There’s a good explanation for why so many Utahns have made the trip up to the Kennecott Visitors Center at Bingham Canyon Mine in the past.

The views can’t be beat, especially since it’s not often you see what the inside of a mountain looks like.

“We know the main reason people came up to our previous visitors center was to take a look at the open pit,” said Piper Rhodes, communications manager for Rio Tinto Kennecott. “We want people to come up and take a look at what we’re all about.”

Lots of people have visited the visitors center.

However, no one has been able to do so in the past five years.

“We’re standing right here in the location of where the slide took place,” said Rhodes while looking at the open pit.

She’s talking about the big landslide that happened in 2013.

Not an everyday occurrence

Officials at Kennecott said it was the largest open pit landslide in history, which brought 165-million tons of dirt and rock down the mountain.

Workers here still talk about it because they can still see it.

“Having a mountain slide down is not an everyday occurrence,” said Matt Laird, a geo-technician with Rio Tinto Kennecott.

Thanks to precision lasers that detected slight movements before the slide, workers were able to get out before the slide happened.

Not a single person was hurt.

“This technology helped us detect the slide,” said Baird. “We knew months in advance before it happened.”

However, several vehicles and pieces of equipment were damaged — including the old visitors center.

Ever since, though, Rhodes has been planning for a new one.

“It’s been a labor of love. I’ve really been working on it for about the last five years, so since the slide we’ve been focused on how we can re-establish a visitors experience,” said Rhodes.

It’s almost ready, and it’s a recovery that might have been unthinkable five years ago.

The new Kennecott Visitors Center

It will feature mining equipment kids can play on, information, and the laser equipment that was used to detect the slide.

Of course, it will also include the part people mainly come up for.

The views.

“I think people are going to be excited,” said Rhodes.

Kennecott plans on opening the new visitors center this fall for employers, their families, and contractors.

It will give Kennecott a chance to test the shuttle system that will be used to transport visitors.

Then, in the spring of 2019, Kennecott plans on opening the new visitors center to the general public.

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Kennecott Visitors Center Set To Reopen 5 Years After Landslide