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. Kumtor Gold Company is the operator of the Kumtor project responsible for the entire production cycle. Centerra Gold Inc. is a Canadian-based gold mining company focused on operating, developing, exploring and acquiring gold properties in North America, Asia and other markets worldwide. Centerra is the largest Western-based gold producer in Central Asia. Centerra’s shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol CG. The Company is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Kyrgyz Republic, via Kyrgyzaltyn JSC, is Centerra's largest shareholder owning 77,401,766 shares.
Despite the fact that the Kumtor gold deposit was discovered in 1978 and the feasibility study was drafted by GINALMAZZOLOTO of the Chief Directorate of Precious Metals and Diamonds of the USSR Council of Ministers in 1989, the development of the mine was delayed as the project was seen as being too costly: 995.4 million Soviet rubles (an approximate equivalent of 1.46 billion USD as it stood in those days). It was not until after Kyrgyzstan gained independence that it found itself in a position to attract western investment to start developing its own mineral resources. After thoroughly examining several investment offers, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic favored those made by Canadian Cameco Corporation, one of the world’s largest uranium producers. On December 4, 1992, in Toronto the sides signed the Kumtor Master Agreement.
- 1978 A geophysical expedition of the Kyrgyz State Geological Committee discovers the Kumtor deposit.
- 1989 The USSR Geology Ministry publishes the results of the detailed exploration of the Kumtor deposit.
- 1992 Cameco geologists travel to the CIS in search of promising deposits.
- 1992 The Government of Kyrgyzstan and Cameco Corporation sign Master Agreement forming the Kumtor Gold Project.
- 1993 Kumtor Operating Company is formed as the project operator.
- 1994 The feasibility study finalized. Construction at Kumtor began.
- 1995 Initial financial package necessary for getting credits is completed and approved.
- 1996 The gold mill inauguration was held.
- 1997 Commercial gold production began.
- 1998 A million ounces of gold produced.
- 2002 Gold production at Kumtor exceeded 100 tonnes (3.2 million ounces).
- 2004 Project restructuring. Centerra Gold Inc. was formed. The Investment Agreement came into effect (June 22, 2004).
- 2005 Based on exploration results, the Kumtor mine-life extended till 2013.
- 2006 95 million USD invested in the Kumtor modernization program.
- 2009 Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic signed and ratified the Agreement on New Terms for the Kumtor Project.
- 2010 196,7 million USD was invested in capital expenditures.
- 2012 Largest investments in the development of production – 370 million USD.
- 2012 Based on exploration results, the Kumtor mine-life extended till 2023, and milling operations to conclude in 2026.
- 2014 Transfer of operations activities from Kumtor Operating Company to Kumtor Gold Company.
- 2017 Strategic Agreement on Environmental Protection and Investment Promotion among the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and Centerra Gold Inc. and Kumtor Gold Company CJSC and Kumtor Operating Company CJSC
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.
- "The International Scientific Commission's Assessment of the IMPACT of the CYANIDE SPILL at BARSKAUN, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC" (PDF). www.centerragold.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
- Leuze, Mirjam (2014). Flowers of Freedom. Berlin International Film Festival. Retrieved 2017-02-01.
- Leuze, Mirjam. "About gold". Flowers of Freedom. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2017-02-01.
- Kronenberg, Jakub (2013). "Linking Ecological Economics and Political Ecology to Study Mining, Glaciers and Global Warming" (PDF). Environmental Policy and Governance. 23 (2): 75. doi:10.1002/eet.1605.
- "Kumtor Gold Mines project in shamble as Kyrgyz PM said joint venture not in the interest of his country". Dispatch News Desk. April 9, 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2017-02-11.