Project title:

Investigation of the Risk of Cyanide in Gold Leaching on Health and Environmental in Central Asia and Central Europe

General description:

Gold resources have a significant economic potential in Central Asia and Central Europe. Cyanide leaching, introduced by Western companies, can be considered a major hazard to the environment and human health due to insufficient regional infrastructure. In 1998, an accidental cyanide spill in Kyrgyzstan posed a severe threat to the environment and health. In January 2000, a discharge of about 100 tonnes of cyanide in the tailling pond with a capacity of 100,000 m3 of the Aurul mine near Baia Mare, Romania, produced an environmental disaster with transboundary effects in Europe. To reduce the likelihood of such disasters and to ensure efficient management of environmental risks and emergencies, IRCYL's objectives are to investigate the impact of incidents in Kyrgyzstan and Romania on the environment and on human health, using epidemiological studies that include exposure and assessment. risk, developing expertise in the field of medicine in the event of disasters, including developing a cyanide disaster management plan and implementing a forum for risk communication related to cyanide leaching technology among stakeholders, based on a comprehensive review of technological alternatives and cost-benefit analyzes. The IRCYL consortium, which includes scientists from many fields, as well as industry consultants, is able to achieve these goals.

Duration of the project:

  • 2001-2004


  • Copernicus programme, European Commission


  • Institute of Medicine for Environmental Hygiene (Duesseldorf, Germany)
  • IC Consultans Ltd. - IKON (UK), InfoMine (Russia)
  • Institute of Oncology and Radiology in Kyrgyzstan
  • Scientific Center of Hematology in Kyrgyzstan
  • Institute of Regional Studies (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Center for Physical-Chemical Methods of Analysis in Almaty (Kazakhstan)
  • "Babes-Bolyai" University Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
  • Institute of Public Hygiene Cluj (Romania)
  • Northern University of Baia Mare (Romania)
  • Research Institute and Analytical Instrumentation - ICIA Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
  • Consortium of Mining and Research Companies, Deva (Romania)
  • Remin SA Baia Mare (Romania)


IRCYL approached three objectives in both studied regions:

  • investigation of health effects of an accidental spillage of cyanide, at the company Kumtor, in the Kyrgyz Republic, on May 20, 1998 and at the Aurul mine, in Romania, on January 30/31, 2000
  • analyzing the response to the accident from a medical perspective and creating recommendations for an effective response in the case of other accidents involving cyanide
  • supporting a dialogue regarding cyanide leaching technology, technical precautions and technological alternatives between stakeholders and a new and specific goal
  • assessment of the transboundary impact of the discharge from Baia Mare regarding the environment, economy and legislation in Central Europe.