Big Story 10

Rio Tinto declares force majeure on copper from U.S. mine

(Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto declared force majeure last Friday on shipments of refined copper from its Kennecott mine in the United States following the death of a worker, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

There was no timeline for when the force majeure would be lifted, spokesman Kyle Bennett said. A force majeure is usually implemented by companies during unforeseen events.

Rio Tinto halted production of refined copper at its smelter at the Utah-based mine on Oct. 8 after a worker was exposed to sulfur dioxide gases at the plant while removing debris from a boiler. The worker died two days later.

Rio Tinto Kennecott comprises nearly 20 percent of U.S. copper production, Bennett said. The unit produced 156,500 tonnes of refined copper in 2016, about 63 percent of group output.

Rio Tinto has also declared force majeure on acid deliveries from the smelter, Bennett said.

Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Bernadette Baum