Dump truck slides down 300-foot rocky embankment at Kennecott mine; company investigates cause

Industrials Associated Press

A worker dumping rocks at the Bingham Canyon Mine southwest of Salt Lake City tumbled down a 300-foot embankment in his truck Sunday night after the earth below gave way.

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The man, who was wearing a seat belt, walked away with bumps and bruises after being pulled from the truck. It eventually rested upside-down on the side of the dump site, said Kyle Bennett, a spokesman for Kennecott Utah Copper Corp., also known as Rio Tinto Kennecott.

The dump site is about a year old, on the newer side for the operation, and trucks typically back up on a berm to drop loads of leftover rocks from the mining activity over the side.

Bennett said another worker driving a bulldozer noticed a crack forming on the berm as the truck neared the edge after 10 p.m. Sunday but was too late in warning the driver.

The company is investigating the cause. The dump where the truck tumbled would remain closed until officials determined it was safe, Bennett said.

"Something like this is incredibly unusual," Bennett said.

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He said operations at the copper mine were being ramped back up Monday afternoon after the company stopped all activity to inspect the dumps and working areas.

The mine is the site of a 2013 landslide that was large enough to bury New York's Central Park under 66 feet of rock, dirt and debris, cutting off ore production.

Bennett said the landslide and Sunday's rock dump slide, in different areas of the mining operation, were entirely unrelated and none of the company's monitoring systems indicated anything abnormal in the recent incident.