Mining and milling operations at Kumtor conform to the highest standards of environmental management and occupational health and safety. Protection of Centerra's employees, communities and the physical environments in which we conduct our business are of utmost importance to the company.
Kumtor has developed a comprehensive Environmental Management System to address the effects of its operations on the environment and to monitor compliance with the various permits issued by the Kyrgyz authorities. The system provides scheduled monitoring, engineering controls and reporting on the following areas::
- Effluent treatment plant
- Tailings management facility
- Mill site and mine waste dumps runoff effluents
- Acid generation potential testing and recommendations
- Dust control
- Spill incidents on site and off site
- Hazardous materials handling
- Environment impact monitoring
- Planning for site decommissioning and rehabilitation
- Potable water treatment system
- Sewage operation
- Landfill operation and inventory
The tailings management facility consists of twin tailings lines, a tailings dam, an effluent treatment plant and two diversion ditches around the area to prevent runoff and natural watercourses from entering the tailings basin. The tailings pipelines are about six kilometres in length. The tailings dam was designed and constructed to address the permafrost conditions at the mine site. The dam is about two kilometres long and up to 25 metres high. It is constructed from alluvial material along with a synthetic liner 100 metres on the upstream slopes. During construction the alluvial material was compacted to provide stability for the dam.
As of January 2005, the tailings dam held 32.6 million cubic metres of tailings and 1.4 million cubic metres of untreated process water. During summer operations, some five million cubic metres of effluent are treated and subsequently returned to the environment.
Kumtor conducts at least six mock exercises annually to test different aspects of the emergency response plan including response time, effective communications and the skills of its emergency response team.
As part of its obligations to institutions that financed the Kumtor project, Kumtor Gold Company (KGC) implemented an Environmental Management Action Plan (EMAP) in 1995. The EMAP outlines KGC's environmental and safety commitments, including the regulations applicable to the Kumtor project. The EMAP was updated in 1999 and again in 2002 to reflect the maturing operations. Kumtor continues to be in compliance with the most stringent environmental, health and safety standards, including World Bank Environmental Guidelines, as well as all stipulations in Kyrgyz government permits.
The closure process adopted at Kumtor is a phased approach that allows for the development of a CCP; a testing and monitoring period of several years to evaluate the most promising options advanced in the CCP; and finally the development of a Final Closure Plan (FCP) closer to the end of mine life that considers the results of the testing and monitoring as well as any changes to the environmental, regulatory and social environment that may have occurred over the life of the mine. Therefore, closure planning at Kumtor has been an active and continuous process that will be constantly evolving.
Based on the CCP, a Reclamation Trust Fund was established in 1998 to cover the estimated $20.3 million in future costs of reclamation at the Kumtor gold mine, net of estimated salvage values of $14.9 million. This restricted cash is funded on the "units of production" method over the life of the mine.
As per a written protocol in 2002, the Final Closure Plan (FCP) will be submitted for local state expertise two years before the end of the life of mine. The plan will be developed in accordance with generally accepted environmental practices and applicable regulatory requirements, including World Bank guidelines and Kyrgyz regulations. It will covers all aspects of the mining project including the open pit, mill complex, tailings basin, stockpiles and other surface facilities.