SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 30 years ago, the first gold was mined in Barney’s Canyon near the site of the world’s largest open pit mining operation.
Since then, the mine has completed its life cycle, and Rio Tinto Kennecott is restoring the site to resemble the state nature originally intended — at a cost of over $50 million.
Located on the east slope of the Oquirrh Mountains, 5 miles north of the Bingham Canyon Mine, the Barney’s Canyon Mine operated from 1989 to 2013 and produced more than 2 million ounces of gold, according to Steve Schnoor, reclamation manager for Rio Tinto Kennecott. Toward the end of the life cycle, the company began transitioning to the reclamation process, he said, in preparation for the eventual discontinuation of active mining.
“In our life cycle of planning, we’re planning throughout the mine’s (operation) and performing concurrent reclamation where we reclaim areas that are no longer in use while we operate others,” he said. “The reclamation process takes an active mine site and then returns it to (its natural form), which in this case is open space and a landscape that is compatible with the adjacent areas.”
The Barney’s Canyon operation consisted of rotary drills, front-end loaders and 85-ton haul trucks, crushing and conveying equipment, milling, heap leaching, gold recovery and refining plants, Schnoor explained.
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