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Kyrgyzstan Lifts State of Emergency Around Kumtor Gold Mine

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Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev has lifted a state of emergency imposed last week in a district near the country's massive Kumtor gold mine, one of the nation's largest earners, following a blockade and riots near the site lasting several days.

BISHKEK, June 3 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev has lifted a state of emergency imposed last week in a district near the country's massive Kumtor gold mine, one of the nation's largest earners, following a blockade and riots near the site lasting several days.

The president’s office said on Monday that the situation at the Canadian-run mine, which is one of Kyrgyzstan's most valuable assets, had returned to normal after hundreds of people besieged it last Tuesday. The state of emergency and a curfew in the area was originally due to be in force until June 10.

The mine is now back at work, Centerra Gold, its Canadian operator, said in a statement on its website on Sunday.

"On Saturday, June 1, 2013 road access to the mine was re-established and national grid power to the mine site was restored," the company said. "The mine and mill have resumed operations as truck convoys are now able to bring supplies and consumables to site and personnel can be moved to and from the mine."

A state of emergency was declared in the area on Friday after clashes broke out between police and protesters calling on the government to cancel its agreement with Centerra Gold. Around 55 people including policemen were injured in the disturbances on Friday.

The Kumtor mine is the largest in Central Asia and produced more than 8.4 million ounces of gold between 1997 and the end of 2011, according to Centerra's website.

Under a 2009 agreement, the Kyrgyzstan government acquired one-third of Centerra. The gold mine, which the Kyrgyzstan government has previously accused of causing environmental damage and tax evasion, has denied those allegations and said it has paid $1.2 billion in taxes since its foundation in 1994 and directly invests money into the community.

Centerra’s subsidiary, Kumtor Operating Company, is the largest revenue earner for the Kyrgyzstan budget, and accounted for 12 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP and over half its industrial output in 2011, according to government statistics.

Last year, those figures dropped to 6.6 percent and 37.9 percent respectively, due to stoppages at the mine.

 

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