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Centerra halts gold bar production at Öksüt after mercury detected in recovery plant

Construction at Öksüt, located in the Kayseri province of south-central Turkey, 295 km to the southeast of the capital city of Ankara. (Image courtesy of Centerra Gold.)

Centerra Gold (TSX: CG) (NYSE: CGAU) announced Friday it has temporarily suspended gold doré bar production at the Öksüt mine in Turkey, due to mercury having been detected in the gold room of the adsorption-desorption recovery (ADR) plant.

Centerra said it has taken several initial actions in response, including cleaning mercury from affected areas, taking steps to mitigate and prevent exposure, implementing the necessary safety protocols and protective equipment, and is in the process of taking the necessary regulatory reporting steps.

The Canadian gold miner said it is also evaluating several potential technical solutions to remove the mercury in the gold recovery process, including a retort and scrubbing system in the ADR plant, prior to the restart of production.

The Öksüt mine became Centerra’s third operating mine in January 2020 when it poured its its gold. About 28.2 million tonnes of ore grading 1.3 g/t gold, containing a total of 1.2 million ounces, are expected to be mined and stacked over an eight-year mine life.

Despite the temporary suspension, the Öksüt mine continues to mine ore, stack ore on the leach pad and process ore within the ADR plant into a gold-in-carbon form.

The gold-in-carbon will be stockpiled until the re-start of the electrowinning process, where the recovery of gold from concentrated solution occurs, the company said.

Centerra will also be evaluating the impact of this suspension on its 2022 guidance, which was raised to 400,000-450,000 ounces earlier in the year.

It notes that through March 17 the Öksüt mine produced and sold over 54,000 gold ounces. The mine is expected to contribute somewhere between 210,000 and 240,000 ounces in 2022.

Shares in Centerra Gold fell 3.9% by 12:10 p.m. ET Friday. The company has a market capitalization of C$3.6 billion.