Centerra Gold Inc. [CG-TSX; OTC-CAGDF] said Thursday January 23 that it has received all the necessary approvals and permits to restart open pit mining operations and to continue milling activity at its Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan for the remainder of 2020.
The announcement comes after two employees went missing following a significant rock movement in the Lysii Waste Rock Dump early on the morning of December 1, 2019.
Centerra said the country’s state agencies have also approved the company’s 2020 mine development plan for the Central Pit, including the revised waste dumping plan and special safety measures to place waste rock material in the Central Valley waste rock dump and the Sarytor waste rock dump.
Open pit mining operations are currently ramping up and are expected to be in full mining production early next week, while the mill continues to process stockpiled ore as planned for 2020. In addition, Kumtor is continuing its own internal review and co-operating with the Kyrgyz authorities’ inquiries in relation to the Lysii Waste Rock Dump.
On Thursday, Centerra shares eased 2.2% or 22 cents to $9.65 on volume of 634,574. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $6.27 and $13.00.
Centerra halted open pit operations at its Kumtor Mine after the two employees went missing in early December.
Kumtor said it initiated an emergency evacuation of all mine personnel from the area and an immediate cessation of mining operations. It said two Kumtor employees who were working in the area did not report to the emergency gathering area and remain missing.
However, after six weeks, the search operation for the company’s two missing employees at Lysii Waste Rock Dump returned no sign of the two missing employees. With the consent of the families and the relevant Kyrgyz state agencies, including the Ministry of Emergency Services, the decision was made to stop the search effort.
A funeral prayer was held at the site attended by family members, relatives and community supporters. “Our thoughts, condolences and prayers are with our employees, families and our deepest appreciation is to all those involved in the search efforts,” Centerra said.
The Kumptor mine is one of two flagship assets in the Centerra Gold portfolio. The other is the Mt. Milligan Mine, which is located in British Columbia. The company’s portfolio also includes the Oksut Gold project in Turkey and the late stage Kemess development project in B.C.
At the time when the two miners were reported missing, Centerra said the Kumtor mill would continue uninterrupted processing ore that has been stockpiled on surface and there was no change to the company’s production outlook for 2019.
Kumtor is the largest gold mine operated in Central Asia by a Western-based company. Mining operations are carried out using conventional open-it mining methods.
Higher grades and recoveries at Kumtor and higher gold grades at Mt. Milligan enabled Centerra to produce a better than expected 206,000 ounces of gold and 21.2 million pounds of copper in the third quarter of 2019. That includes 150,305 ounces from Kumtor and 55,355 ounces from Mt. Milligan
Centerra recently raised its 2019 gold production guidance to 730,000-765,000 ounces from an earlier forecast of 705,000-750,000 ounces.
The company said construction at the Oksut Project in Turkey is now 79% complete and remains on scheduled with the first gold pour expected in January of 2020.