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Azerbaijan 'to begin industrial gold mining this year'

BAKU, February 4 (RIA Novosti) - Azerbaijan expects to begin industrial gold mining by the middle of this year, the country's ecology and natural resources minister told journalists on Wednesday.

Guseyngulu Bagirov said Azerbaijan had at least "several hundred tons" of gold deposits, and that the exact amount would only be known after research had been carried out.

"We expect industrial gold mining to begin in the middle of this year," Bagirov said, adding that, "At the moment we are conducting geological research."

Azerbaijani media reported earlier that the country's Gedabek gold works plant would be up and running by the end of February and would begin sluicing gold ore. However, this has been postponed until the beginning of April.

Industrial gold mining in Azerbaijan was to begin at the end of 2008. It was postponed however due to technical problems.

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