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The Kennecott mine. Image: Copyright © 2018 Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has experienced a delay to the restart of its smelter at the Kennecott copper-gold-silver mine in the United States.

The mining giant has attributed this to unexpected issues that appeared while following planned maintenance at the site.

As a result of this interruption, Rio Tinto decided to scale its refined copper group production guidance for this year to 135,000–175,000 tonnes from 165,000–205,000 tonnes.

“We are working closely with our customers to limit any disruptions and expect to have the smelter fully operational in two months,” Rio Tinto confirmed in a media statement.

Rio Tinto produced 186,800 tonnes of copper at the Kennecott mine in 2019 and the company has approved an investment of $US1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) over the next six years to continue production at the site.

This will support its operations at Kennecott until at least 2032 by extending strip waste rock mining and supporting additional infrastructure development at the South Wall Pushback project.

It will allow continued mining into a new area of the ore body and deliver nearly a million tonnes of refined copper between 2026 and 2032.