A giant gold mine that provides more than 10% of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP has been fined 2.5 billion euros for environmental violations, a decision that has been challenged by the Canadian company that operates the mine.
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“According to the decision of the Oktyabrsky court in Bishkek on May 7, the Comtor gold company has been decided to claim 261.7 billion sum (2.53 billion euros),” a court spokesman told AFP on Saturday.
The company, owned by Canadian group Centerra Gold, has been accused of storing waste for years on two glaciers surrounding the mine.
This condemnation came the day after the passage of a law by the Kyrgyz parliament, authorizing the government of this Central Asian country to impose “external management” on foreign companies operating under concession agreements, as is the case for Centerra, and violating the environment.
For the law to go into effect, the law must now be signed by the new Kyrgyz President Sadr Jabarov, an old opponent of Centra.
In a statement, the Canadian group was surprised by the proximity of these two decisions, noting that the law “passed three readings and was adopted in one day” by Parliament.
Centerra ajoute que «les performances environnementales de la mine sont conformes aux normes internationales» et que les faits reprochés remontent à plusieurs années, alors qu’un accord de 2009 l’exonérait de poursuites pour des «dommages prétendument causés à l’environnement» avant this date.
And adds the Canadian group: “Therefore, the company is completely convinced that the allegations (…) are completely unfounded.”
The main contributor to the budget of Kyrgyzstan, the Komtor mine employs 4,000 people and in 2020, according to its figures, it represents 12.5% of the country’s GDP.
Amid calls for its nationalization, it has long-running tense relations with the Kyrgyz state and unrest has erupted in recent years around the mine on several occasions.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Centra shares tumbled, losing 29.8% on Friday after the law was passed by the Kyrgyz parliament.