Rio Tinto Shuts Coal Power Plant for Kennecott Utah Copper Operation

by | May 2, 2019

Rio Tinto Shuts Coal Power Plant for Kennecott Utah Copper Operation

(Photo: Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper in Utah. Credit: Rio Tinto)

Metals and mining corporation Rio Tinto permanently closed the coal plant that powered its Kennecott Copper operation in Utah. Combined with renewable energy certificates, the move should reduce the site’s annual carbon footprint by as much as 65%, the company says.

The Utah Power Plant in Magna, Utah, had been operational for 75 years prior to its retirement this year, according to Rio Tinto. Now Kennecott is getting supplied with 1.5 million megawatt hours of renewable energy certificates from Rocky Mountain Power, which includes wind power from Wyoming.

“The plant retirement and acquisition of renewable energy certificates will remove more than 1 million tons of CO2 from our operations,” Rio Tinto Kennecott tweeted on Wednesday. The company added that the coal plant closure would not affect jobs.

Kennecott’s Utah Power Plant was put into operation in 1943 during World War II, the company explained. The four-unit, 175-megawatt thermal generator could be fired with coal or natural gas. Rio Tinto Kennecott had been idling the plant each winter to reduce emissions since the early 1990s, but opted not to start it up again this spring.

Instead, the company collaborated with the local government, local communities, and Rocky Mountain Power to retire the plant and figure out alternative energy sources.

“This move will significantly reduce emissions associated with our operations in Kennecott and allow us to offer customers copper, gold, and silver with a reduced carbon footprint,” said Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques. “The materials we produce, from infinitely recyclable aluminum and copper used in electrification to borates used in energy-efficient building materials and our higher grade iron ore product, all play a part in this transition to a low-carbon economy.”

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