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The boss of a mining company, which runs a gold mine where nine miners are missing after a massive landslide, has been detained by authorities in Turkey.

Cengiz Demirci, Turkey director and senior vice-president of operations at the Denver-based SSR Mining, was detained on Sunday morning.

Hundreds of rescue workers are searching for those trapped under rubble after Tuesday’s disaster at Anagold Madencilik’s Copler mine in the town of Ilic, in the mountainous Erzincan province in northeast Turkey.

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Huge landslide hits gold mine in Turkey

SSR Mining is the parent company of Anagold, which has operated the mine since 2009, where more than 650 people work.

The workers have been missing for six days after the huge landslide which, according to Turkey’s interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, involved a mound of soil extracted from the mine.

Footage showed a huge mass of earth rushing down a gully, overrunning everything in its path.

Experts have warned the site is a potential environmental hazard, because the soil was laced with dangerous substances, including cyanide, used in gold extraction.

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They have said it may affect the nearby Euphrates River, which stretches across Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Turkey’s environment ministry closed down a stream leading to the river to prevent water pollution.

Image:
Relatives of missing miners arrive at the mine. Pic: AP

Six Copler mine employees – out of eight detained earlier this week – have been formally arrested.

On Saturday, Turkey’s environment ministry said it was cancelling Anagold’s environmental permit and licence.

Image:
An ambulance leaves the Copler mine. Pic: AP

In 2020, the same mine was shut down following a cyanide leak into the Euphrates, roughly two miles away.

It reopened two years later after the company was fined and a clean-up operation was completed.

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Shares in SSR Mining plunged more than 50% after Tuesday’s catastrophe.

In 2022, an explosion at the Amasra coal mine on Turkey’s Black Sea coast killed 41 workers.

The country’s worst mining disaster took place in 2014 at a coal mine in the municipality of Soma, in western Turkey, where 301 people were killed.

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