Rio Tinto has approved $1.5 billion investment to continue copper production at Kennecott in the US. This extends mining operations to the second phase of the project until 2032.
Investment in the project commences from 2020 with production expected from 2026. Output of refined copper from the site is estimated at a million metric tonnes through 2032.
This is an attractive, high value investment with low risk, according to Rio Tinto, to ensure production of copper for the strong demand from electric vehicles and renewable power technologies, against the declining grades and mine closures impacting global supply. The company delivers 20pc of US’ copper at present. Kennecott processes advanced copper and is only one of the three smelters in the US.
The global mining company owns the copper mine project privately and also produces gold, silver, platinum, molybdenum, rhenium, and tellurium from the site. They intend to permanently shut the coal-fired plant currently at Kennecott and source renewable energy certificates to reduce their carbon footprint.