SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – For the last two years the Rio Tinto Kennecott mine has been closed to the public because of COVID-19. Last week the mine finally got to welcome back visitors and they are preparing for a busy summer ahead.

ABC4 spoke with Ryan Perry, the communities and social performance manager for the mine.

“We’re excited to welcome back visitors,” said Perry. “It’s a great educational experience for anybody to learn about the critical role of minerals and other aspects.”

The Kennecott Mine is known for is large production of copper but recently has started producing tellurium, becoming one of only two U.S. producers of this important mineral which is used in solar panels.

Tellurium is listed as a critical mineral by the U.S. Government due to its importance to the economy and energy security.

“Tellurium is rarer than gold,” said Perry. “All of the minerals produced help us create a greener energy future.”

The Kennecott mine first opened in 1890 when mining for copper began in the area. The mine quickly became very successful, producing about 30% of the world’s copper during World War II.

The mine is still the largest and richest copper mine in history.

Today, the mine produces all types of products such as Iron, Aluminum, Borates, Lithium, Diamonds, Salt, and Titanium dioxide.

Visitors can make a reservation to visit the mine online. Shuttle services are available every 30 minutes starting at 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Visitors can also check out the Bigham Canyon Lions Gift shop once there. All proceeds from tickets go toward the Kennecott Charitable Foundation. The mine is located southwest of Salt Lake City.