Kumtor Gold Mine
The Kumtor gold mine (Kyrgyz: Кумтөр, IPA: [qum.tør]; Russian: Кумтор) is an open-pit gold mining site in Issyk-Kul Region of Kyrgyzstan located about 350 km (220 mi) southeast of the capital Bishkek and 80 km (50 mi) south of Lake Issyk-Kul near the border with China. Located in Tian Shan mountains at more than 4,000 m (14,000 ft) above sea level, Kumtor is the second-highest gold mining operation in the world after Yanacocha gold mine in Peru.
Kumtor is 100% owned by the Canadian mining company, Centerra Gold, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Kumtor Gold Company. The mine started operation in Q2 1997 and has produced more than 10 million ounces (311,000 kg) of gold through March 31, 2015. In mid-June 2012, the Kyrgyz Parliament issued a resolution to review Kumtor’s compliance with relevant operational, environmental, health and safety and community standards. Stopping short of voting to nationalise the Kumtor mine, lawmakers instead directed the government to revise the contract with Centerra. Currently, Kyrgyzstan has a 32.7% stake in Centerra while Centerra retains full ownership of the mine and its output.
The mine was linked to an environmental incident in 1998 when a truck carrying 1,762 kg of sodium cyanide (a chemical used to dissolve gold from granulated ore, the use of which is highly controversial) fell into the Barskaun River on the way to Kumtor. An international independent group of experts studied the impact of the accident and concluded that no one was killed or poisoned as a result of the accident. After long protests and political struggle a compensation of 3.7 million US dollars was paid. The operation of the mine continues to be the center of political and environmental controversy.
The minesite employs technical experts from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and all of the surrounding areas from Bishkek to Karakol. The mine affects glaciers which also causes trouble to the mining process.
Mistrust between the Canadian-based company and the Kyrgyzstan government intensified after the company released a financial report of the project on March 20, 2015.
On April 9, 2015, the former Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev rejected any joint venture in Kumtor gold mines project and said that the joint venture of Kumtor gold mine was not in the interest of his country. Addressing a press conference on April 9, 2015, Otorbaev indicated he thought a change in the entire management of Kumtor gold mine project was needed and said that God saved Kyrgyzstan from signing the contract last year on unfavorable conditions because there were tricks involved in the project by the administration of the project.
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