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Turkish miners missing after landslide

15 February, 2024Nine mine workers are still missing after a cyanide-laced landslide swept across a valley in İliç, Erzincan, running into an open pit and crashing into a road where mineworkers were travelling by vehicle.

The landslide happened on 13 February at an open pit gold mine owned by Anagold Mining Company, a joint-venture corporation of SSR Mining and Lidya Madencilik. Rescue operations to find the missing miners are under way, made more complicated by the levels of highly toxic cyanide in the ground. Cyanide is used to extract gold from ore.

According to Turkish media four senior mine officials have been detained as part of the investigation. The mine has come under criticism from civil society for some time over its use of cyanide and its potential impact on the environment and human life. There are fears that cyanide used in the mine may leak into the Euphrates river, an important source of water that extends beyond Turkey.

Says IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan:

“This is not an accident, but a homicide. This is not a coincidence, but a clear preference.

"The mining industry must be safe, secure and sustainable. This homicide is yet another example of how mineworkers around the world are exposed to very high risks. There have been too many fatalities in Turkish mines over the years but no lessons learned. This has to end; being killed at work is not the destiny of miners. People must be the priority, not profits.”

IndustriALL Global Union calls on Anagold Mining and the Turkish authorities, to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of what happened in the mine, after the rescue efforts are concluded.

Turkey has a poor record on mine safety. In October 2022, an explosion in a coal mine in Amasra killed 41 miners, and in 2014 more than 300 people were killed in the country’s worst mining disaster in Soma.

Photo credit: Sendika.Org