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Kyrgyzstan Wants Canadian Gold Firm to Pay $300M for Damage

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Kyrgyzstan's state environmental watchdog has sued Canada's Centerra Gold, the operator of the Kumtor mine, for $300 million over ecological damage allegedly caused during its mine operation.

BISHKEK, December 7 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyzstan's state environmental watchdog has sued Canada's Centerra Gold, the operator of the Kumtor mine, for $300 million over ecological damage allegedly caused during its mine operation.

The state environmental protection and forestry agency’s spokesperson said Saturday that it had filed the lawsuit at an economic court in former Soviet republic’s capital of Bishkek demanding the company to pay the compensation for “polluting the environment.”

According to the agency, the damage was caused over the period between 1996 and 2011.

The Kyrgyz officials say that they had to file that lawsuit after the Canada-based company had ignored earlier request for voluntary compensation.

The state agency claims that the company’s subsidiary, Kumtor Operating Company, has not paid a fixed fee the government charges for damage inflicted to the environment in process of mining.

The Kumtor mine, which holds estimated deposits of at least 700 tons of gold, has for the past year been subject of a tussle between Toronto-listed Centerra Gold and Kyrgyzstan, which wants to increase its 33-percent stake in the project.

The company almost closed negotiated with the Kyrgyz government to create a joint venture between the parties to run the mine. But it was rejected by the parliament which seeks the state to hold 67 percent in the proposed joint venture.

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