Four Arrested in Connection With Leach Pad Landslide in Türkiye

Four more people were arrested on May 24 in relation to the fatal landslide at the Çöpler gold mine in Türkiye. A recently released Expert Committee Report commissioned by the Iliç Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office included them among the 13 primary negligent parties for the disaster, bringing the total arrests to 12, according duvaR. english. A landslide occurred when the mine’s leach pad failed February 13, 2024, and killed nine people.

The report identified John Harmse, vice president of global projects, SSR Mining, the mine’s owner, and Cengiz Demirci, senior vice president-operations for SSR Mining, as primary responsible parties. Demirci was arrested in February and released after six hours. A total of 26 individuals were identified with secondary responsibility, including officials who signed off on the positive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). They also found primarily at fault by the experts.

The report, according to the duvaR. english article, summarized the multiple errors that led to the disaster. Failure to properly establish the project management mechanism, the capacity increase, the design errors in the prepared projects, the insufficient monitoring during the operation phase, the inadequate warning systems, and the lack of an effective management system to act upon the warning signs of cracks were all influential factors in the occurrence of the incident. The report also noted that the incident caused environmental pollution.

The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) said it warned of a slippage risk at the mining facility months before the incident. SSR acknowledged that it has received a copy of the Expert Committee Report and said it had only completed a preliminary review. The company said the Çöpler heap leach pad was designed, and has been reviewed over the years, by multiple reputable, third-party engineering firms. Based on its preliminary review and assessment of the incident, SSR said it has not identified any material non-conformance with the construction or operation of the heap leach pad relative to the third-party engineered design parameters.

As featured in Womp 2024 Vol 06 -