UPDATE 1-Rio Tinto copper force majeure at Utah copper mine

Tue Apr 16, 2013 2:07pm EDT

April 16 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto's Kennecott Utah Copper said on Tuesday it is invoking force majeure with respect to contracts with copper cathode and sulphuric acid customers after last week's huge landslide at its Bingham Canyon copper mine.

Kennecott is in the early stages of assessing plans to restart ore production, spokesman Kyle Bennett said in an email.

Force majeure is a clause included in contracts that removes liability for natural and unavoidable events that prevent companies from fulfilling their obligations.

"Because of the slide and immediate impacts, Kennecott is invoking 'force majeure' in accordance with terms in the agreements with companies that we supply copper cathodes and sulphuric acid," Bennett said.

Rio said earlier on Tuesday it expects Kennecott's 2013 copper production to be reduced by about 100,000 tonnes because of the slide.

Kennecott is the second-largest copper producer in the United States. Bingham Canyon, one of the world's largest open pits, produced 163,200 tonnes of copper last year, as well as 200,000 ounces of gold.