Centerra Gold Suspends Operations at Kumtor Mine

Centerra Gold’s Kumtor mine, located in the Kyrgyz Republic, experienced a “significant rock movement” at the Lysii Waste Rock Dump in the morning hours of December 1. The mine initiated an emergency evacuation of all personnel from the area and immediately ceased mining operations. Two Kumtor employees who were working in the area did not report to the emergency gathering area and remain missing. A search and rescue operation, which began immediately, is ongoing in cooperation with the Kyrgyz Republic Ministry of Emergencies, according to the company.

“Our primary focus right now remains on the safe return of our two missing employees and the safety of our search and rescue teams who are working in very challenging circumstances,” said Scott Perry, president and CEO of Centerra Gold at the time. “While the search continues, we are coordinating closely with the family members of the missing employees and our thoughts and support are with the families, the search and rescue teams, as well as with the entire Kumtor team.”

A few days later, the company reported that the Lysii Waste Rock Dump had stabilized sufficiently that light equipment is being employed in the search effort. Open-pit mining operations remain temporarily halted because of the need to focus on search and rescue efforts but also because 100% of the waste rock being mined was to be placed on the Rock Dump located in the Lysii valley.

Kumtor’s mining areas, including the Central Pit, have not been impacted by the Lysii Waste Rock Dump movement since the Lysii valley is an isolated valley over a ridge to the north of the open pit. The company is assessing alternative waste rock dumping plans, which could include using the existing capacity in the Central Valley Waste Dump, the Sarytor Waste Dump and/ or in-pit dumping. A restart of open-pit mining operations won’t occur until the company is certain that the search and rescue efforts will not be affected and a revised waste dumping plan has been completed.

Kumtor mill infrastructure has not been impacted from the Lysii Waste Rock Dump movement, since the Lysii Valley is isolated over a ridge to the north and at a lower elevation than the mill. While mining has been suspended in the open pit, the company said it has sufficient ore stockpiles on surface for normal production levels through the end of 2020. As previously disclosed, there is no change to the company’s production outlook for 2019.

Infrastructure at the bottom of the Lysii Valley such as surface access roads, a reclaim water pipeline and powerline are unaffected by the Lysii Waste Rock Dump movement but, as a precaution, the company is building a bypass water pipeline to ensure an uninterrupted supply of water to the mill.

As featured in Womp 2019 Vol 12 -