Whereas the government-controlled Kumtor Gold Firm (KGC) mentioned the mine is steady and working at full velocity, Centerra mentioned it has photographic proof suggesting the opposite. They embody a video posted on August 15 on KGC’s Fb web page.
“Based mostly on these photos, Centerra believes at the least 40 meters of water could also be on the backside of the Kumtor central pit (…) This has put the whole mine and its staff susceptible to probably catastrophic occasions, to not point out the true hurt to the setting.,” the corporate mentioned in an emailed assertion.
The miner believes pressing motion is required to deal with vital security and operational points.
“That is large and the whole scenario presents an imminent hazard at many ranges, not simply the water within the pit, but additionally the tailings storage facility because of glacier soften”, Lindsay Newland Bowker, government director of World Mine Tailings Failures advised MINING.COM.
“The Kyrgyz authorities has zero capability and no cash to tackle a correct evaluation or correction of this downside,” she added.
The mine pit slices by two glaciers — Lysyi and Davidov. This neighborhood and the apply of storing waste rock straight on the glaciers represents a danger to the big pure ice sheets, based on data compiled by Bankwacht Network
Water is a hazard in pits in a number of methods, together with affecting slope stability and a possible leak of the metal-rich water saved there, often called mine drainage, says Geoff Beale from Piteau Associates, a Canadian geotechnical and water administration consultancy.
In an online seminar last year, Beale — who can also be co-editor of the CSIRO Pointers for Evaluating Water in Pit Slope Stability — famous the quantity of water contained in a pit might be an accident catalyzer.
“Water adjustments the resistive forces of a slope and creates driving forces. It’s a quite simple idea. It’s two forces appearing on the similar time— the downward strain of the rocks that holds the fabric collectively and the opposite is the higher strain of the water that may break the rock. The much less water, the extra resistance,” he mentioned.
One of the well-known of landslide in an open pit is the one which occurred at Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah in 2013. The incident didn’t declare victims, nevertheless it broken gear, a constructing construction, slowed output, and took at the least three years to restore.
Useful resource nationalism
The Kyrgyz’s parliament passed in early May a law permitting the state to briefly take over Kumtor gold mine, the nation’s largest industrial enterprise.
Kyrgyzstan’s transfer got here after a courtroom fined Centerra’s unit Kumtor Gold Firm (KGC) greater than $3 billion for allegedly dumping mining waste on glaciers close to the mine 4,000 meters above sea degree. A state fee additionally just lately alleged that KGC owed greater than $1 billion in unpaid taxes.
Kumtor is the most important of Centerra’s three gold mines, accounting for over 50% of the corporate’s whole output. For the reason that seizure, Centerra’s Kyrgyz subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The corporate has additionally sued the new external manager of the mine, alleging that he conspired to steal the asset whereas he was a director.
Centerra mentioned on the time that KGC and the Kumtor Working Firm CJSC (KOC) have been solvent, with whole property (together with the Kumtor mine) above $1.1 billion and no exterior financial institution debt.
Kumtor Gold Firm’s video:
The Canadian miner just isn’t a celebration to or affected by the Chapter 11 submitting and stays with greater than $883 million in money and nearly $1.3 billion in liquidity as of June 30, 2021, it said earlier this month.
The mine has produced greater than 13.2 million ounces of gold between 1997 and the tip of 2020. Final 12 months’s output was barely over 556,000 ounces. Centerra guided in January for Kumtor to provide 470,000 to 510,000 ounces of gold, with enhancing grades and manufacturing anticipated in the direction of year-end.
The operation is taken into account by analysts a traditional instance of the risks tied to resource nationalism, because it has been for years the topic of each renegotiations protracted authorized battles.
Centerra is at present seeking to hold the Kyrgyz government and Kyrgyzaltyn responsible for all losses and damages that consequence from their coordinated marketing campaign to grab the gold mine in violation of longstanding funding agreements and with out compensation to Centerra.
The corporate additionally seeks to forestall the Kyrgyz authorities and Kyrgyzaltyn from taking any additional actions to nationalize the mine or improperly eliminate it.
Its two items, KGC and KOC, filed final week a movement in a US Chapter Courtroom seeking penalties of $1 million a day in opposition to the Kyrgyzstan authorities.
Kyrgyz authorities haven’t but replied to MINING.COM’s request for feedback on Centerra’s assertion.