Five years from now, the Kennecott Utah Copper mine in South Jordan may look very different. Company officials say a project now underway will improve the view from the Wasatch Front.
If you live anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley, you have likely seen the large, yellow mounds that surround Kennecott’s copper mine. It’s been said that the mine is even visible from space, but Michael Piercy, General Manager of Construction, says the company has embarked on an effort to convert those rock piles to hills of green.
“What the community will ultimately see is a mountain come back to life,” Piercy says. Kennecott is opening up a new area for digging. That means they will have eight million cubic yards of top soil that they can use to regrade the land to a more gradual slope, and plant native vegetation across an area spanning about three miles. Kennecott spokesperson Kyle Bennett says the public will see a difference.
“We’ve been asked about that for years and years and years, can we improve this? Yes, we have an opportunity to do that right now, but in addition to that, improving the performance is something that from an operational perspective, we’re excited about as well,” Bennett says. He says the project will reduce erosion and dust. It will also enhance surface and groundwater infrastructure to prevent runoff and keep potentially contaminated water within the grounds of the mine.
Bennett says Kennecott has fully recovered from a massive landslide in 2013, and is moving on. “This is one such opportunity that shows we’re continuing to look at the lifecycle of the business,” he says. “We’re continuing to invest in the business, and we think that we have a long and exciting future.”
The project is expected to cost about 100 million dollars and to be completed by 2020.