Seven killed in crash of plane chartered by Kinross Gold Corp. in Mauritania

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania – Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) says none of its employees were on board a military plane chartered by the mining company that crashed in Mauritania on Thursday.

Steve Mitchell, a spokesman for the Canadian gold miner, said seven people were killed in the crash, including two pilots, three security personnel and two Mauritanian customs officials. None was Canadian.

An aviation official in Mauritania said the plane caught fire shortly after taking off from an air strip in Nouakchott, the West African country’s capital. The official declined to be named in line with department policy.

The Harbin Y-12 Mauritanian military plane was bound for the company’s Tasiast gold mine, some 200 kilometres north of the capital. Kinross said the plane had been chartered to carry gold from the mine.

The pilot attempted to return to the runway, but failed.

Kinross said there was no gold on board the flight and the crash would not affect mine operations or gold shipment schedules.

The Toronto-based company extended its condolences to the families of the victims.

Kinross acquired the mine with its US$7.1-billion friendly takeover of Vancouver-based Red Back Mining Inc. in 2010.

Operations at the mine were temporarily halted last month over a labour dispute. Kinross said the dispute was resolved a few days later after representatives for both the workers and management reached an agreement. The company provided no further details.

In addition to Mauritania, Kinross has mines and projects in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Russia, and Ghana.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version identified the type of plane incorrectly.