Nine people missing after CYANIDE-laced landslide swallows gold mine

Nine people missing after CYANIDE-laced landslide swallows gold mine

WATCH: Terrifying moment Landslide strikes Turkey

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 15/02/2024

- 20:44

Four senior mine officials have been detained as part of the investigation

Rescue workers are battling to find nine workers trapped under earth after a landslide at a gold mine in eastern Turkey.

The landslide occurred on Tuesday afternoon in the Ilic district of Erzincan province with concerns over the soil containing cyanide, given leach mining is conducted there.

Gold miner SSR Mining SSRM.TO suspended production at the mine after what it described as a "large slip on the heap leach pad".

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said: "Our search and rescue operations will continue non-step day and night...Our hope is for good news and we are working for that."

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya press conference

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya held a press conference


Of the nine missing, five people were believed to be in a container hut, three in a vehicle and one in a truck, he said at the disaster site. Some 1,700 personnel were involved in the emergency operation, including 339 search and rescue workers.

The mine is operated by Anagold Madencilik and owned by Turkey-based Calik Holding and Denver, Colorado-based SSR Mining, which is listed in Toronto and New York.

Security footage showed a giant mound of soil, which authorities said had been processed for gold and piled on the hills, rapidly crumble and flow into the valley in a deluge of earth and rocks, sending clouds of dust into the air.

Yerlikaya said some 200 metres of a hillside slid in the incident. Initial findings suggest the volume of the landslide was 10 million cubic metres of earth that moved 800 metres at a speed of 10 metres per second, he said.


\u200bOrganisers worked to dig through the landslide

Organisers worked to dig through the landslide


The earth slid to within a few kilometres of the Euphrates river. However, the operating company Anagold said samples had been taken from streams and rivers in the area and no pollution has been detected.

Officials have currently said that no cyanide flow has gone into the river and no danger regarding its waste storage pool.

The mine produced 56,768 ounces of gold in the third-quarter of last year, and is SSR's second-largest producing gold mine, operating since 2010.

The incident sparked a plunge of more than 50 per cent in its Toronto-listed shares. The stock slide wiped out about C$1.4 billion ($1.03 billion) from the company's market value.

According to Turkish media, four senior mine officials have been detained as part of the investigation.

Turkey has a history of mining accidents. In October 2022, an explosion in a coal mine in Amasra killed 41 miners, and in 2014 more than 300 people were killed in the country’s worst mining disaster in Soma.

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