SSR withdraws guidance for Çöpler in light of mine disaster

Copler is SSR’s second-largest producing gold mine. Credit: Anagold

SSR Mining (Nasdaq, TSX: SSRM, ASX: SSR) has withdrawn its 2024 and long-term guidance forecasts for the 80%-owned Çöpler gold mine in light of the recent incident that led to its suspension, the company said in its full-year results update.

“Right now, our attention is focused at Çöpler. The events of February 13, 2024 were tragic and overshadow today’s results,” SSR executive chairman Rod Antal said in Tuesday’s release.

On February 13, a landslide occurred at the mine site located in the Erzincan province of eastern Turkey, leaving nine workers trapped under the soil. To date, the missing workers remain unaccounted for despite extensive search efforts by Turkish authorities.

Authorities said as much as 10 million cubic meters of earth were dislodged across a 200-meter slope. SSR described the incident as a “large slip on the heap leach pad”.

In the aftermath, the Çöpler mine, which represents one of SSR’s cornerstone assets, was suspended amid fears of cyanide contamination, and the company also had its environmental licence annulled by the Turkish government.

In 2023, the Çöpler mine accounted for 220,999 gold ounces of the 706,894 gold-equivalent ounces produced across SSR’s entire portfolio. Its full-year cost of sales was $1,191 per ounce and AISC was $1,433 per ounce.

In its results release, SSR said it is now in the process of evaluating the estimated remediation costs for Çöpler and anticipates recording a remediation liability during the first quarter of 2024. It also anticipates recording an impairment of inventory and specific assets directly impacted by the Çöpler incident.

As of year-end 2023, the Çöpler leach pad inventory of $73.3 million represents 19% and 10% of Çöpler’s total inventory and of the company’s total inventory, respectively. The mineral, properties, plant and equipment related to the leach pad had a total value of $33.1 million.

Due to a non-cash impairment at Çöpler for removing some resources from the mineral reserve base, the company posted an attributable net loss of $217.8 million or $1.07 per share in the fourth quarter of 2023. For the full year, attributable net loss was $98 million or $0.48 per diluted share.

Shares of SSR Mining were down 5.1% by 11:45 a.m. in Toronto, trading at C$6.00 apiece. The stock recently plummeted to a 52-week low of C$5.10, while its high during that period was C$23.71. The miner’s market capitalization is approximately C$1.2 billion ($880m).