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13 Feb 2024

The Guardian

Missing Turkish miners ‘swallowed by cyanide-laced landslide’


Hundreds of Turkish rescue workers were searching through a cyanide-laced field for nine mine workers who were swallowed by a landslide that rolled over their open pit on Tuesday.


Experts and local officials said the search was complicated by the presence in the ground of cyanide – a highly toxic chemical compound used to extract gold from ore.


Environmental activists and local officials tried to shut down the open pit mine after a 2022 cyanide leak.

The plant closed for a few months but then re-opened after its operator paid a fine, prompting an outcry from Turkey’s opposition parties.


Mehmet Torun, the former president of the Chamber of Mining Engineers, said that the huge pile of soil sliding towards the Euphrates River consists of materials washed with cyanide and sulphuric acid.


Anagold, a private company that runs the İliç mine, said it was working to minimise the effects of this “painful” incident.

“We will mobilise all our means in order to urgently shed light on this incident,” Anagold said in a statement.

The justice ministry on Tuesday assigned four public prosecutors to investigate the mine’s operations.