Kyrgyzstan Declares State Of Emergency, Clears Protesters From Centerra Gold (CG) Mine

 @AlexCKaufman on May 31 2013 12:14 PM

Kyrgyzstan declared a state of emergency in a northern district on Friday after a protest outside Centerra Gold Inc.’s (TSE:CG) mine turned violent.

Villagers on horseback stormed the Canadian-owned mine -- the largest gold venture run by a Western company in Central Asia -- on Tuesday, demanding the company build roads, schools and water pipelines and offer them loans and jobs in the Kumtor shafts, a female employee at Kyrgyzstan’s Washington, D.C., embassy said.

Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev said at a news conference that 92 people were arrested and demonstrators were cleared from the roads leading to the mine, hours after police used tear gas and stun grenades to break up the protests, Reuters reports.

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Protesters swarmed and overtook a substation and cut electricity to the mine on Thursday. But officials said on Friday that generators restored power to the operation.

President Almazbek Atambayev imposed the state of emergency and a curfew on Dzhety Ohuz district of the Issyk Kul region until June 10, his office said in a statement, adding that “those who broke the law must be brought to justice.”

The mine is critical to the former Soviet republic’s economic vitality.

Centerra Gold alone contributed 1 percent to Kyrgyzstan’s gross domestic product in 2011. Yet, recently, nationalist groups have been calling for Bishkek to nationalize the mine. Parliament has a June 1 deadline to renegotiate or repudiate a 2009 deal with the Canadian company to operate Kumtor. Kyrgyzstan owns a third of the company.

A spokesman for Centerra Gold could not be immediately reached for comment, but a receptionist told the International Business Times that the company was inundated with calls from investors.

Kyrgyzstan's government reviewed the company's contract in June last year amid claims that the mine had caused immense damage to the country's ecology and the health of villagers. A parliamentary commission estimated the damage to cost $4 billion.

Shares of Centerra Gold fell 3.86 percent by 11:30 a.m. EDT.

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