Landslide in Turkey puts cyanide risks back into the spotlight


In February 2024, nine Turkish rescue workers were swallowed by a landslide at the Çöpler open-pit gold mine in eastern Turkey, which was contaminated by cyanide.

The incident on 13 February dislodged 10 million cubic meters of earth across a 200m slope, leaving workers trapped under the soil, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya told reporters in February.

Local officials and experts said the search operation was made difficult by the presence of cyanide in the ground. Cyanide is a hazardous chemical element used to extract gold from ore. The Independent Mining Labour Union representative, Basaran Aksu, told Turkish media that the cyanide soil had collapsed at the location, according to a statement by Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

Canada-based SSR Mining, which owns an 80% stake in mine operator Anagold Madencilik, suspended all operations at the mine. The search and rescue operations for nine workers who went missing after the incident are still ongoing. On 5 April, SSR Mining said the body of one of the missing personnel was recovered from the manganese pit.

SSR Mining has received notice that the environmental permit for Çöpler has been revoked, and consequently, the operation will be suspended until further notice. Government officials have instructed the company to plan for remediation efforts, with the initial focus being on moving heap leach material from Sabirli Valley to a permanent storage location.

Çöpler’s history of cyanide contamination

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Read More: Landslide in Turkey puts cyanide risks back into the spotlight

2024-04-16 07:02:59

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