Friday, July 13, 2012

Kinross says no employees onboard plane that crashed in Mauritania

A small plane chartered by Kinross Gold crashed in Mauritania’s capital Thursday, the Canadian mining company said, killing all seven people aboard.

A spokesman confirmed that no Canadians were among the victims. The company also said there was no gold on the plane, which was heading out to pick up a shipment of the precious metal from the Tasiast mine, north of the capital.

In a statement, Kinross offered condolences and said that there were no employees on the plane, which was carrying two pilots, two local customs officials and three “contract security personnel.”

An aviation official in Mauritania had earlier told Associated Press that the plane caught fire shortly after taking off from an airstrip in Nouakchott, capital of the West African nation. The pilot attempted to return to the runway, the official said, but failed to reach it.

Kinross initially identified the plane, a Mauritanian military aircraft, as a Soviet-built YAK-12 but then realized it was a Harbin Y-12. Produced since the 1980s, the Y-12 is a Chinese twin-engine prop plane that can carry 17 passengers.

“The incident has not affected normal mine operations or flights of personnel to and from Tasiast,” the company said. “The incident is not expected to affect gold shipment schedules.”