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Centerra suspends milling at Mount Milligan copper-gold project

Centerra Gold Inc. said Dec. 27 that it suspended milling operations at its Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in British Columbia due to insufficient water resources.

Mount Milligan experienced a drier than normal spring and summer in 2017, which limited the amount of spring snowmelt, in turn reducing reclaim water availability in the mine's tailings storage facility. A harsher than expected winter worsened the situation due to higher ice formation at the facility.

As a longer-term response to the situation, Centerra is planning a change to the mine's environmental assessment, seeking permission to pump water from the nearby Phillips lake.

The company expects to start partial processing by the end of January 2018 and fully restart operations after the spring melt, which usually happens in April. During the downtime, maintenance crews will look to bring forward other maintenance work that had been planned for later in 2018, Centerra added. Mining operations continue, building up ore stockpiles for future processing.

Year-to-date, Mount Milligan has produced about 225,000 ounces of payable gold and roughly 54 million pounds of payable copper. Full-year production at its Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan is expected to come in at 560,000 ounces, the company noted.

The Kyrgyz mine has received the state permits necessary for a full year of operations in 2018.

Centerra expects to provide next year's production guidance in January.