Rio Tinto is to invest US$660 million over the next seven years to extend the life of its Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon mine in Salt Lake City from 2018 to 2029.
The investment includes the construction of mine infrastructure and new equipment to support pushing back the south wall of the mine.
First ore from the south wall push back, which will be processed through existing mill facilities, is expected in 2017. The investment will enable production at an average of 180 thousand tonnes of copper, 185 thousand ounces of gold and 13.8 thousand tonnes of molybdenum a year from 2019 through 2029.
Rio Tinto Copper chief executive Andrew Harding said "This investment highlights the additional value we can create by the efficient investment of capital at existing tier one assets.
It will secure low cost copper, gold and molybdenum production for the next two decades. We continue to evaluate underground options that will further extend the life of Bingham Canyon, which has already been in operation for more than 100 years."
Work continues on evaluating projects to expand the tailings impoundment and upgrade the power plant, and obtaining permits for these projects.