Torrential Rains Suspend Operations at Maricunga

Northern Chile was hit with torrential rains last week causing flooding, mudslides and extensive damage.  Mining operations throughout the region were affected, including Kinross’ Maricunga site where mining, crushing and the SART plant were suspended. All non-essential personnel were sent home and all employees have been accounted for.

Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our people as they deal with the fallout from the worst rain disaster in 80 years.

“It is at times like this that we see our first value – putting people first – in real, live action. I am immensely proud of the response of all of our people as we come together to deal with this challenge,” said Bob Musgrove, Vice-President of Operations in South America.

The Atacama region, one of the driest deserts in the world, had experienced an eight year drought prior to the rains. In a single day last week, seven years’ worth of precipitation fell in 12 hours in the Andes, causing rivers to burst their banks and floodwater to wash out entire communities in the valleys below. On March 25, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency.

Flash flooding in Copiapó, a city of 120,000 located 120 km west of Maricunga, inundated many homes and buildings, including the Kinross offices. Power lines to both the Maricunga and La Coipa sites were cut and road access washed out.

The Chilean army is working to clear roads and open bridges as Kinross organizes a fly-over to determine the extent of the damage. Our teams at the mine sites, led by Bruce Thieking and Pablo Asiain at Maricunga and Hernan Sanhueza at La Coipa, have implemented well-established procedures to ensure the safety and integrity of our employees. Kinross has a contractor crew ready to start clearing the road from Copiapó to Maricunga and our mining equipment from Maricunga is working on clearing the roads from the mine down towards Copiapó.

Our Copiapó team members, led by Rodrigo Moscoso, are working from their homes. In Copiapó we have obtained some heavy equipment and are supporting road clearing activities.

From the Santiago office the HR team is trying to contact as many employees and families as possible to ascertain their situation. We are using our Twitter and Facebook channels to provide daily information updates, while at both sites, updates are being given to all employees twice a day.

By the most recent counts, 14 people in the Atacama region have been declared dead, 20 missing more than 4000 people have been evacuated to shelters.  


Kinross offices in Copiapó


Flooding in and around Copiapó


Flooding in and around Copiapó