Centerra Gold's Kumtor mine contaminates local ground & water used for drinking, says report.

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Company response
13 February 2012

Centerra Gold response

Author: Stephen Lang, Centerra Gold

Dr. Moran’s report covers a wide range of issues, and we are preparing a comprehensive response which will be forwarded in the coming weeks. In the meantime...I wish to clarify and correct...a number of points emerging from his report, which paints an inaccurate picture of Kumtor’s environmental practices and of the regulatory framework within which it operates...[T]he Kumtor mine has a record of safe, environmentally responsible mining in the Kyrgyz Republic...Centerra’s Corporate Responsibility Report, 2010 provides a comprehensive description of its policies and practices (http://www.centerragold.com/sites/default/files/2010centerra_cr_report-f...)...Parliamentary Working Group, accompanied by technical experts, visited the mine in June 2011, took water samples, and found “no deviations” from required standards...Repeated testing of water from Petrov Lake has determined that there is no detectable arsenic in the Lake...Kumtor’s tailing pond is regularly inspected by the Kyrgyz authorities and other experts. Audits and inspections have concluded that the tailings pond and dam are performing to design and incompliance with all regulatory requirements.

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Article
31 January 2012

[PDF] Kumtor Gold facilities, Kyrgyzstan: Comments on water, environmental and related issues

Author: Dr. Robert Moran, CEE Bankwatch Network

...Centerra-KOC [Kumtor Operating Company]...Mine operations...are contaminating local ground and surface waters by releasing elevated concentrations of...contaminants (uranium, arsenic, aluminum, iron, copper, molybdenum, manganese, nickel, zinc, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, ammonia, cyanides) into the environment...KOC monitoring and Kyrgyz Commission (2011) water quality data show that contaminants are being released into the environment from mine facilities. Contamination sources include: natural rock contaminants from the waste rock, open pit walls and floor, tailings impoundment...and fuels and greases...process chemical spills, explosives, antifreeze and other chemicals...The Kumtor operations use roughly 4.38 billion liters of water per year, which increases the competition for water in these arid regions with other downstream users. Much of this water has degraded water quality once it returns to the hydrogeologic system...Kumtor uses roughly 8 to 10 tons per day of cyanide to remove gold and silver from the ores...KOC monitoring data are totally inadequate to define the specific forms of cyanide that remain in the tailings and which are being released into the environment...The tailings impoundment, the Petrov Lake dam and waste rock piles are unstable as they sit on glacial deposits and permafrost, which is now melting. Any significant seismic event could cause a catastrophic collapse of these materials, especially when they are water-saturated.

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