By Steve Fiscor, editor-in-chief, E&MJ

SSR Mining Inc. suspended all operations at the Çöpler gold mine in Türkiye after it experienced a large slip on the heap leach pad. This event occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. CET on February 12, 2024 (6:30 a.m., EST, February 13, 2024). The photo above shows the leach pad under construction. A YouTube video published by the Guardian shows what appears to be the dam (right foreground of the photo) giving way into the valley below. The company reported that nine miners are missing.

The company was scheduled to deliver what should have been fairly optimistic technical reports on its operational performance for 2023. Instead, SSR Executive Chairman Rod Antal opened the meeting with a briefing of a situation that was evolving half a world away. “The situation is developing as we speak, and our first priority is people and containment,” Antal said. “We suspended operations. Once we complete our initial emergency response protocols onsite, we will be able to provide more details on the back of that.”

The Çöpler mine is SSR’s flagship operation and it produced 220,999 ounces (oz) of the company’s total 706,894 oz of gold production in 2023. The operation leaches oxide ore and processes sulphide ore. The sulphide plant operated at an average throughput rate of nearly 7,500 metric tons per day in 2023.

Prior to the failure, SSR said it is expected Çöpler to produce 200,000 to 220,000 oz in 2024 with 40,000 oz attributed to heap leach production. Over the next five years, Çöpler’s gold production profile was forecast to nearly double to 400,000 oz annually, reflecting a significant “gold recovery uplift” enabled by a $194 million grind-leach circuit that was expected to be completed during that timeframe.