Questions raised about Centerra Gold’s safety practices after another death at Kumtor mine – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – February 19, 2020)

An employee of Canadian gold company Centerra Gold Inc. has been killed in an accident at its huge Kumtor mine in the Kyrgyz Republic, the third fatality at the same site in the past few months.

Toronto-based Centerra said a driver died while operating an excavator on the weekend. The rig tipped and slipped into a water-filled basin at the high-altitude mine. The mid-sized gold producer is working with regulators and state authorities to determine the cause of the accident.

The Kumtor open pit gold mine in the landlocked country of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia is Centerra’s biggest operation by far. Last year, the facility produced 600,000 ounces of gold, or about three-quarters of Centerra’s entire output. The company also has mines in Canada and Turkey.

Over the past few years, Kumtor has been the scene of a number of fatal accidents, one of which led to a criminal investigation into Centerra.

“The ongoing safety record, not just regards to fatalities, but with regards to injuries at Kumtor, is concerning,” Rick Rule, chief executive of Sprott U.S. Holdings Inc., said in an interview.

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