kennecott copper mine

Kennecott Copper Mine is a world-class, integrated copper mining operation located just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States. The mine has been in operation since 1903 and is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. The mine is also known for its impressive size and the unique terraced appearance of the mine.

The Kennecott Copper Mine is part of the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, which includes the land and mining claims that formed the foundation for the Kennecott Copper Corporation. The operation had two components: the mines where ore was extracted from the mountains, and the mill town where the ore was processed. The mine has a rich history and has played an important role in the development of the mining industry in the United States.

Today, the Kennecott Copper Mine is still in operation and is a major contributor to the economy of the region. The mine produces copper, gold, silver, and other minerals, and employs thousands of people. The mine is also an important tourist attraction, with visitors coming from all over the world to see the impressive size of the mine and learn about its history.


The Kennecott Copper Mine has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. It was discovered in 1896 by two prospectors, Jack Smith and Clarence Warner, who staked the first mining claim in the area. The mine was named after the Kennicott Glacier in Alaska, but the spelling was changed to Kennecott for legal reasons.

Early History

At the turn of the 20th century, the Kennecott Copper Mine was one of the largest copper mines in the world. The mine was operated by the Utah Copper Company, which was later acquired by the Kennecott Copper Corporation. The mine was instrumental in the growth of the local economy, providing jobs for thousands of people and contributing to the development of nearby towns such as Bingham and Magna.

During the early years of the mine, workers used hand tools to extract the copper ore from the ground. As technology advanced, the mine became more mechanized, with steam shovels and electric trains used to move the ore to the surface. The mine also had its own power plant, which provided electricity to the surrounding area.

Modern Era

Today, the Kennecott Copper Mine is still in operation and is one of the largest copper mines in the United States. The mine is owned by Rio Tinto, a global mining company, and is operated by Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation. The mine produces copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum, and employs over 2,000 people.

In recent years, the mine has implemented a number of environmental initiatives to reduce its impact on the surrounding area. These initiatives include using electric trucks and shovels, reducing water usage, and implementing a recycling program to reduce waste.

The Kennecott Copper Mine is an important part of Utah’s history and economy. Its legacy continues to be felt in the surrounding communities and in the mining industry as a whole.



The Kennecott Copper Mine, also known as Bingham Canyon Mine, is located in the Oquirrh Mountains, southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The mine is situated in Salt Lake County, near the town of Copperton. It covers an area of approximately 1,900 acres and is owned by Rio Tinto Group, a multinational mining company.


The Kennecott Copper Mine is an open-pit mine, which means that it is a large excavation in the ground. The mine is over 3/4 of a mile deep and 2.5 miles wide, making it one of the largest man-made excavations in the world. The mine is situated in a valley that is surrounded by mountains, with the Oquirrh Mountains to the west and the Wasatch Mountains to the east.

The topography of the area is a result of the movement of tectonic plates, which created the mountains and the valley. The valley is also home to the Jordan River, which runs through the area and is used for irrigation and other purposes.

The mine is situated at an elevation of approximately 6,000 feet above sea level, which means that the climate is generally cooler than other parts of Utah. The area receives an average of 16 inches of precipitation per year, with most of the precipitation falling as snow during the winter months.

Overall, the geography of the Kennecott Copper Mine is unique and plays an important role in the mining process. The location of the mine provides easy access to transportation and other infrastructure, while the topography of the area makes it ideal for an open-pit mine.

Mining Operations

Extraction Process

The Kennecott copper mine is an open-pit mining operation that extracts copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum. The mine is located just outside Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States. The extraction process involves drilling, blasting, loading, and hauling ore to the processing plant. The ore is then crushed, ground, and processed to separate the valuable minerals from the waste rock.

The processing plant uses a flotation process to separate the copper, gold, and silver from the molybdenum and other impurities. The resulting concentrate is then transported by rail to a nearby smelter for further processing.

Environmental Impact

The Kennecott copper mine has a significant impact on the environment. The mine is located in a semi-arid region with limited water resources, and the extraction process requires a large amount of water. To mitigate this impact, Kennecott has implemented several water conservation measures, including recycling wastewater and using dry-stack tailings.

The mine also produces a significant amount of waste rock and tailings. Kennecott has implemented several measures to manage this waste, including reclamation and closure plans for mine sites and tailings impoundments. The company also uses best practices for dust and noise control to minimize the impact on nearby communities.

Overall, Kennecott strives to operate in an environmentally responsible manner and has received numerous awards and recognitions for its environmental stewardship.

Economic Impact


The Kennecott Copper Mine has been a significant employer in the Salt Lake Valley for over a century. As of 2023, the mine employs approximately 2,000 people, making it one of the largest private employers in the state of Utah. The mine provides jobs in a variety of fields, including engineering, geology, mining, and support services.

Additionally, the mine indirectly supports many other jobs through the purchase of goods and services from local businesses. The economic impact of the mine’s employment extends beyond the immediate area, as many employees commute from surrounding cities and towns.


The Kennecott Copper Mine is a significant contributor to the economy of Utah. In 2019, the mine generated $1.5 billion in economic output for the state. The mine pays taxes to local and state governments, providing funding for schools, roads, and other public services.

Furthermore, the mine’s production of copper and other minerals generates revenue for the company and the state. In 2022, Kennecott announced plans to expand its mining operations, which will increase its production of copper and extend the mine’s life. This expansion will provide additional revenue for the company and the state of Utah.

Future Prospects

The future looks bright for Kennecott Copper Mine. With the approval of a $55 million investment in development capital for underground mining, Kennecott is set to expand its production and deliver additional high-quality mined copper through to 2027. This investment is expected to create new job opportunities for the community and boost the local economy.

Moreover, Kennecott’s mining operations may play a crucial role in our solar future. The mine produces 15% of U.S. copper, and if it reaches its target of 20 tons per year, it will be more than 3% of world production. Most tellurium, a key component in solar panels, is found in copper ores, making Kennecott’s mine a valuable resource for the solar industry.

As the demand for copper and other metals continues to grow, Kennecott is well-positioned to meet the needs of the market. The mine’s commitment to sustainability and responsible mining practices ensures that it will continue to be a valuable asset for years to come.

FAQ Section

Is the Kennecott Copper Mine still open?

Yes, the Kennecott Copper Mine is still open. In fact, the mine recently announced a $55 million investment in development capital to start underground mining and expand production at Kennecott. This move is aimed at extracting more copper from the mine and ensuring its continued operation for years to come.

Why did Kennecott Copper Mine close?

The Kennecott Copper Mine never fully closed, but it did experience a decline in operations in the late 1920s when the supply of high-grade ore began to diminish. The Kennecott Copper Corporation diversified into other North American and Chilean mines, but Kennecott itself remained in operation and continues to produce copper today.

Is Kennecott Copper Mine the biggest?

The Kennecott Copper Mine is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world, but it is not the biggest. Other notable copper mines include the Escondida mine in Chile and the Grasberg mine in Indonesia. However, Kennecott is still a significant producer of copper and a major employer in the Salt Lake Valley.

How much gold comes out of Kennecott Copper Mine?

While the Kennecott Copper Mine is primarily a copper mine, it does produce a small amount of gold as a byproduct. According to the mine’s website, the mine produced 181,000 ounces of gold in 2021. However, it is important to note that copper is the primary focus of the mine’s operations.