May 02, 2012 NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Rio Tinto Kennecott, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto PLC (RIO), has shut down its copper smelter for maintenance, the company told Dow Jones Newswires.
Rio Tinto Kennecott took its copper smelter offline on Monday as part of planned maintenance. The smelter shutdown is expected to last 24 days and occurs every two years.
"We take the opportunity every other year to upgrade any old equipment and modernize to make the smelter more efficient," a Kennecott spokesman said.
"It's part of the routine process to shut it down and do the maintenance work that will allow us to meet our projected copper production rates," he added.
Kennecott Utah Copper produces around 17% of U.S. refined copper consumption and last year produced 215,000 metric tons of copper, according to company data.
Rio Tinto said in April that it planned to shut down the Kennecott smelter during the second quarter. At the time, it said the shutdown would allow it to take advantage of higher quality ore that's expected to be mined during the second half of 2012.