Rio Tinto has approved $238m to advance a feasibility study for extending the life of Kennecott Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon Mine in Salt Lake City, US, and for the purchase of related long-lead time equipment.

The company said that the study will look at extending the mine’s life from 2019 to 2028 through pushing back the south wall and constructing supporting infrastructure and equipment.

This includes a fifth grinding line at the Copperton Concentrator, expanding the tailings impound and upgrading power generation facilities.

The feasibility study has been discussed with the local community as part of an extensive community engagement program that has been running since August 2010 in relation to the potential expansion and securing the necessary regulatory permits.

A final investment decision is expected in the first half of 2012.