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Four held over SSR gold mine landslide in Turkey

A search for nine workers buried after a landslide hit SSR Mining’s (TSX: SSRM)(ASX: SSR) gold mine in eastern Turkey continued on Wednesday, the interior minister said, while local media reported that four people, including the operation’s field manager, were taken into custody as part of an investigation.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said that police and military teams, mine rescuers and volunteers, totalling more than 1,700 search and rescue personnel, were on the ground to look for the missing workers. Five of them are believed to have been in a container hut, three in a vehicle and one in a truck, the minister said.

The incident happened on Tuesday at the Çöpler gold mine, 80%-owned by US-based SSR Mining, which suspended production after further notice. The landslide, described by the company as a “large slip on the heap leach pad”, caused shares to lose more than than 50% of its value in both the New York and Toronto exchanges on Tuesday. 

Security footage shared on X shows a massive mound of soil, which authorities said had been processed for gold and piled on the hills, speedily crumble and flow into the valley in a deluge of earth and rocks, prompting mining trucks nearby to escape.

İliç Altın madeninde meydana gelen toprak kaymasında yeni görüntüler ortaya çıktı

— Politic Türk (@politicturk) February 14, 2024

Turkish authorities have launched a probe to determine the cause of the landslide and the safety conditions of the mine.

Cyanide leak fears

Environmental groups fear of a cyanide and sulphuric acid leak, used in the process of gold extraction, could reach the Euphrates River, which flows from Turkey to Syria and Iraq.

Their worries stem from cyanide leak at the mine in 2020, caused by a burst pipe, which forced the mine suspension. Çöpler reopened two years later after the company was fined and a cleanup operation was completed.

Turkey’s mining industry has been marred by a series of accidents in recent years. In 2022, a coal mine explosion killed 41 workers. But the country’s worst mining disaster in record happened in 2014 also at a coal mine, which resulted in 301 workers dead.

The Çöpler gold mine, in operations since 2010, is run by private company Anagold. It produced 56,768 ounces of gold in the third quarter of 2023 and is SSR’s second-largest producing gold mine.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More