K92 ordered to temporarily suspend mining following worker death

Credit: K92 Mining

K92 Mining (TSX: KNT) announced on Tuesday that underground operations at its Kainantu gold mine in Papua New Guinea have been temporarily suspended following the death of an employee earlier this month.

The incident occurred on March 10. Processing operations at Kainantu were subsequently halted for three days, and have since resumed on the existing stockpiles.

Preliminary investigations by both the company and the Papua New Guinea police have led to the conclusion that the incident is a “non-industrial” in nature.

On March 13, the PNG authorities ordered a temporarily suspension of underground operations, pending the completion of action orders in relation to an independent safety audit and the installation of a collision avoidance system.

Work on these action orders is underway and were in process prior to the issuance of the action orders, the Canadian gold miner said in a news release.

Given the non-industrial nature of the incident, procedural, determination and jurisdictional breaches of the Mining (Safety) Act in issuing the action orders, the company said it filed an appeal on March 14 and expects this to be addressed shortly.

The incident marks another fatality reported at the Kainantu mine over the past year. In both May and June of 2023, two separate vehicular accidents occurred in or around the mining area, leading to the deaths of two workers in each instance.

The Kainantu project in PNG’s Eastern Highlands province was originally acquired from Barrick Gold in 2014, and it has now become K92’s flagship operation. The mine is now entering its next phase of expansion to ultimately become a Tier 1 operation with a per-annum run rate of up to 470,000 oz. gold equivalent.

Shares of K92 Mining were down 2.3% to C$6.20 when the market opened in Toronto. The company has a market capitalization of C$1.45 billion ($1.1bn).