It is unclear yet what impact the temporary suspension may have on the company's 2022 production guidance. Up to 17 March, the Oksut mine had already produced and sold over 54,000 ounces of gold this year.
The company is taking action to mitigate and prevent further exposure while cleaning mercury from the affected areas. In addition, Centerra has begun implementing the necessary safety protocols and protective equipment. This includes following the necessary regulatory reporting steps.
The company is evaluating potential technical solutions to remove the mercury in the gold recovery process, which includes a retort and scrubbing system in the plant, before production will be able to restart.
Centerra said the site will continue to mine ore, stack ore on the leach pad and process ore within the ADR plant into a gold-in-carbon form. This will then be stockpiled until the electrowinning process can restart.
Most large-scale and regulated mining companies do not use mercury in their mining operations due to the toxic impact it can have on the environment, as well as to human health. It is only used in certain regions of the world.
Toronto-based Centerra Gold is focused on operating, developing, exploring and acquiring gold properties, primarily in North America and Turkey. It is currently operating two mines, one of which is the Oksut mine in Turkey. The other property is the Mount Milligan mine in British Columbia, Canada.
On 18 March, Centerra Gold traded on the TSX at C$12.10/share, down 3.97% on the day. Its shares have steadily increased this year from the $9 mark.