BINGHAM CANYON — An estimated 100 employees and contractors were evacuated from Kennecott Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon Mine on Wednesday and operations ceased for the night after movement was detected in the area of April's massive landslide.
About 400 feet of material moved a couple hundred feet around 6 p.m., Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett said. An excavator operator spotted the shift and raised the alarm, while monitoring equipment registered the activity.
The evacuation is a precaution, and no one has been injured, Bennett said.
Employees who operate machinery in the mine receive specific training to watch out for material movement, providing an additional level of security on top of real-time monitoring from mine systems, he said.
"Part of our safety monitoring effort is to train those people to notice visual changes in their surroundings," Bennett said. "This particular employee did notice those changes, and because they noticed those changes, we stopped work immediately and evacuated people from the slide zone."
Earlier this year, a huge landslide buried the open-pit mine under 165 million tons of earth. Wednesday's material movement was spotted near the top of the previous slide area.
No additional movement has been detected since the evacuation, but the area remains under surveillance until mine officials can inspect the area in the morning, Bennett said.
Employees have been alerted to the situation in advance of the 6 a.m. shift change, and "everyone will continue to show up as necessary," Bennett said.
It's unknown what caused the movement, but rainfall over the past several days could be a factor, he said.