In early December 2019, Canadian gold miner Centerra Gold reported a substantial rockslide at the Lysii Waste Rock Dump, Kumtor Mine, located in the Kyrgyz Republic.

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Centerra’s Kumtor operations. Image source ©Centerra Gold

According to a Company report, Kumtor initiated an emergency evacuation of all mine personnel from the area and an immediate cessation of mining operations, with two Kumtor employees reported missing.

Scott Perry, President and Chief Executive Officer of Centerra said at the time that the Company’s primary focus remained on the safe return of the two missing employees and the safety of the search and rescue teams working in very challenging circumstances.

“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,” said Mr Perry.

Following the initial report, Centerra confirmed that operations would remain halted indefinitely due to all of the waste rock being mined needing to be placed on the Lysii Waste 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 was assessing alternative waste rock dumping plans which could include utilising the existing capacity in the Central Valley Waste Dump, the Sarytor Waste Dump and/or in-pit dumping.

“A re-start 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,” added Mr Perry.

While no other infrastructure was impacted, Mr Perry said the company was building a secondary water pipeline to by-pass any possible impact to the main water supply at the bottom of the Lysii Valley.

Centerra does not foresee any adjustment to the 2019 production guidance, with Kumtor production for 2020 being largely de-risked.

“We’ve been able to stockpile all inventory required for 2020 production. The gold production profile is already de-risked,” explained Mr Perry.

“The board has not approved the budget for 2020 and thus I cannot release guidance yet, but we’re expecting normal course production levels to the end of 2020.”

At the time of print, no further information was made available.

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