Safety Concerns Halt Mill Operations at Newmont’s Telfer Mine

Safety Concerns Halt Mill Operations at Newmont’s Telfer Mine

Immediate Shutdown Due to Structural Issues

Newmont has been compelled to cease operations at the mill of its Telfer mine in Western Australia. This decision was taken in response to safety concerns surrounding the mine’s tailings facilities, particularly after detecting structural problems at the newest tailings facility shortly before Christmas.

The company reported the discovery of “cracking and seepage” on an internal embankment between the latest tailings facility and its predecessor. This discovery led to the immediate suspension of work at Telfer’s mill on December 24, as the company activated its emergency response plan.

Newmont employed radar and drone technology to analyze and monitor the situation following the detection of the issue. The company’s swift response included closing some work areas near the tailings storage facilities to ensure safety and conduct thorough assessments.

Tailings Storage Facility Stability and Plans

As of January 6, 2024, the Engineer of Record affirmed the stability of both tailings storage facilities at Telfer, enabling Newmont to commence remedial works on TSF 7. This step is crucial for resuming tailings deposition and restarting processing operations. Meanwhile, mining operations continue, with the crushed material being stockpiled.

Telfer, operational since 1977, has eight tailings dams, with only two currently in use. Reports published by Newcrest Mining in August 2023 had previously noted issues with TSF 7 regarding stability and internal erosion. Newmont’s takeover of Newcrest Mining last year included acquiring the Telfer mine.

Regulatory Response and Safety Measures

The Western Australia Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety issued prohibition notices to Newmont, requiring restrictions on the use of the tailings storage facility until necessary repairs are completed. Worksafe also played a role in ensuring operational safety through prohibition notices.

With the structural weakness located between two tailings dams, the immediate risk to worker safety is minimal. However, the potential failure of the wall between the facilities poses a significant operational risk. Telfer, a crucial asset for Newmont, produced almost 349,000 ounces of gold last financial year under Newcrest’s management. The company is now focusing on the stability assessment of all mine facilities and considering the future of Newcrest’s assets, including Telfer.

Following this development, Newmont’s stock witnessed a decline, closing down at $57.19, a 4.4% decrease. icon

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