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Dec 2, 2019

Centerra halts operations at Kumtor Mine after two workers missing following rockfall

Continential Gold, Centerra Gold, Hudson's Bay: Market movers for Dec, 2, 2019

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TORONTO -- Centerra Gold Inc. says a search continues for two workers after a "significant rock movement" in a waste rock dump at its Kumtor mine in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The company said in an update Monday that the dump had stabilized enough that light equipment is being used in the search.

Toronto-based Centerra said it had halted open pit mining operations both to focus on search and rescue efforts, and because all waste rock from the main pit is supposed to go in the affected dump.

"Our primary focus right now remains on the safe return of our two missing employees and the safety of our search and rescue teams who are working in challenging circumstances," said CEO Scott Perry on a conference call.

The mine's emergency response personnel are co-ordinating with search and rescue teams from the Kyrgyz government Ministry of Emergencies in the search, he said.

The company said that while mining is halted, rock processing from stockpiles continues. It says it is looking into alternative waste dumps and that other infrastructure at the mine isn't affected.

This is not the first serious safety incident at the mine. An employee died while working at the ore conveyor at the Kumtor mine in 2016, and a vehicle mechanic at the mine was killed while inspecting a pickup truck in 2017.

Centerra's share price dropped as much as 24 per cent before closing down $1.30, or 11.4 per cent at $10.06 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday.