At our Kışladağ operation in Türkiye, we use heap leaching to extract gold from mined ore. To mitigate risks and ensure the health and safety of our people, host communities and the environment, we follow strict management practices and standards.
What is heap leaching?
Heap leaching starts with placing finely crushed ore onto a dedicated, lined area, called a heap leach pad. New ore is stacked in layers known as “lifts,” which are separated by liners constructed of high-density polyethylene membranes. Then, the stacked ore is rinsed with a diluted cyanide solution to separate out the gold.
After the rinsing, the gold-laden solution is directed through a system of collection pipes leading to lined ponds and then pumped to a processing plant. The dissolved gold is recovered at the adsorption, desorption and regeneration (ADR) plant using activated carbon before being further refined into gold doré.
How does Eldorado responsibly manage its heap leach facilities?
At Kışladağ, we currently operate the South Heap Leach Pad and are in the process of constructing an additional North Heap Leach Pad.
Responsible water management is a top priority in the design and operation of our heap leach facilities. The mine is bounded by a series of collection ditches that divert non-contact water around the site, while all contact water with the site, including the heap leach facilities, is collected in ponds for treatment and use.
All ponds, including those containing cyanide solution, are lined with double high-density polyethylene membranes and fitted with leak detection pipes and pumps. The ponds are designed to withstand, at minimum, a 100-year, 24-hour storm event. They are covered with floating, high-density polyethylene balls to reduce evaporation and to inhibit wildlife contact with the cyanide solution. Continuous treatment of contact water and recirculation of process solution means that Kışladağ recycles most of the water it withdraws.
There are no permanent water bodies in the area surrounding the mine, and water supply for other users is limited. As water is limited in the region, local communities are supplied with potable water from sources several kilometres away from the mine site. We supported the construction of potable water infrastructure in the region and continue to support its maintenance.
To mitigate the significant GHG emissions that would result from transporting ore with trucks, we use kilometres of electric conveyors to move the ore from the crushing plant at Kışladağ to the heap leach pad.
Since before it entered production, Kışladağ has maintained an environmental management plan that includes an extensive monitoring program for elements such as surface water and groundwater, flora and fauna, waste and hazardous waste storage, and social factors.
We are a signatory to the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI), and in line with Eldorado’s Sustainability Integrated Management System requirements, the Kışladağ mine adheres to the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC), a voluntary certification program of best practices for the management of cyanide in gold mining. Kışladağ has been recertified for a fourth time following an independent audit in 2022.
Interested in learning more? Read about heap leaching at Kışladağ and other sustainability practices in our 2022 Sustainability Report.