Kazakh company halts gold exploration amid violent protest in Kyrgyzstan04 april 2014, 23:11
Kazakh company Altyn Kumushtak Mining LLC has temporarily suspended exploration of Shyralzhyn gold deposits in Buckeye-Ata district of Talas oblast in Kyrgyzstan, Tengrinews reports.
One of the Kazakh investors sent a notification of the suspension to the Kyrgyz State Agency on Geology and Mineral Resources. The investors stopped all the works at the mine and started to evacuate the equipment and personnel. These measures were taken to prevent escalation of conflict with the local residents, who gathered for a rally demanding an end to the explorations of the deposit. Investors have not yet estimated the losses from the suspension of the project.
Around 500 residents of Buckeye-Ata district came onto the streets to demand a halt of exploration of gold in Shyralzhyn field by the Kazakhstani company. As a result of the clashes in Talas oblast, 19 police officers and 9 protesters were injured. The protesters were dispersed yesterday.
Today, on April 4, the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Djoomart Otorbaev held a meeting with the security forces to find an appropriate solution to stabilize the situation in Talas. The Head of Government instructed to assess whether the activities of the Kazakh investors were in compliance with the local legislation and their obligations in terms of social and environmental fees. He also ordered to check if the regional administrations were using the funding coming from the Kazakhstani investors’ payments rationally.
It is not the first attempt for the Kazakhstan company to set up an operation at that mine in Kyrgyzstan. Kazakh company Altyn Kumushtak Mining LLC conducted exploration of gold deposits in Shyralzhyn between 2005 and 2009, but its license was revoked in 2009 because of violations in its activities. Until 2013, the explorations were led by a Chinese company. The Kazakhstani businessmen filed a law suit but lost in court. Nevertheless, the Licensing and Subsoil Use Commission reinstated the license to the Kazakh company in 2013.