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Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper Donates $15 Million to the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City

Located on U of U land, the 17-acre site is on the high ?bench? that marks the shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville and offers breathtaking views in all directions. The building rests on a series of terraces that step up the hill and lay along the contours of the site, with minimal disruption to the adjacent natural landscape. In addition, running and hiking trails in the immediate area are preserved and enhanced.

May 15, 2008 – Kennecott Utah Copper announces a $15 million donation to support the new Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah. When the museum building opens in 2011 in upper Research Park, it will be named the Utah Museum of Natural History at the Rio Tinto Center.  Rio Tinto is the parent company of Utah companies Kennecott Utah Copper, Kennecott Land Company and Kennecott Exploration.  The donation continues Kennecott’s 30-year support of the Museum and represents the largest single corporate donation in the University’s history.

“It is a rare opportunity to find community partnerships where two groups can proudly support the same causes. In this case, it’s the support of sustainable principles, and an interest in the natural sciences,” said Andrew Harding, Kennecott Utah Copper President/CEO.  “Through this partnership, we will continue to introduce youth to careers in the natural sciences. We also hope to expose people to mining and show them how it is important to modern life.” 

The museum is an active research institution that cares for over 1.2 million objects.  It provides unique natural history experiences to Utah residents and tourists through traveling and permanent exhibits, special events and other programs.  The museum also offers a variety of outreach programs to communities and schools throughout Utah, reaching every school district in the state annually.  

University of Utah President Michael K. Young said that the support Kennecott and Rio Tinto have provided to the U over the years is legendary. “This latest gift is truly remarkable because of the scope of its impact,” said President Young. “Not only will it help the Utah Museum of Natural History build its beautiful new facility, but it will benefit all Utahns by supporting the museum’s educational mission throughout the State.  We are, as always, extraordinarily grateful for their ongoing generosity and support,” said President Young.

“The importance of this copper donation –the use of this local precious metal used throughout human history– makes powerful connections to the educational mission of the Museum,” said Museum Director Sarah George.  “On the exterior, horizontal bands of copper of various heights emulate geological stratification, recalling Utah’s geological and mineralogical history….. copper bands that will age through time with beauty,” said George.

About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

About Kennecott Utah Copper
As the second largest copper producer in the United States, Kennecott Utah Copper provides about 13 percent of this country’s copper needs. Kennecott Bingham Canyon Mine is the largest man-made excavation in the world.  It has produced more copper ore, 18.1 million tons, than any mine in the world.  Every year, Kennecott produces approximately 300,000 tons of copper, along with 500,000 ounces of gold, 4 million ounces of silver, about 30 million pounds of molybdenum, and about 1 million tons of sulfuric acid, a by-product of the smelting process.  Rio Tinto purchased Kennecott Utah Copper in 1989 and has invested about $2 billion in the modernization of KUC’s operations. KUCC has also spent more than $350 million on the cleanup of historic mining waste and $100 million on groundwater cleanup.  KUC employs 1,800 people and hundreds of contractors.