Centerra Gold to restart Kumtor, tension high after unrest

Sat Jun 1, 2013 7:45am EDT
 
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* Fuel, power supplied to Kumtor after two days of idle ore output

* Passions still running high in southern Jalalabad region

* Government wants to unbundle Kumtor from Centerra to reap more cash

By Olga Dzyubenko

BISHKEK, June 1 (Reuters) - Centerra Gold said on Saturday it had sent fuel to its flagship Kumtor mine in Kyrgyzstan, hoping to restore output cut by protests and power outages as local villagers demand the venture be nationalised.

However, tension remained high in the town of Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan, where a crowd of anti-Centerra protesters seized the regional administration building on Friday, demanding that the government cancels its deal with the Canadian investor.

On Friday, President Almazbek Atambayev imposed a state of emergency in Dzhety Oguz district in the northern Issyk Kul region after clashes between villagers and police. Kumtor, the country's largest gold deposit, is located in this area.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the only road to Kumtor on Tuesday. Late on Thursday they seized a substation and cut off power to the mine. Power supplies were restored on Friday morning after police intervened, but were cut off again later after protesters sized the same substation.

Power was restored to Kumtor on Saturday, the Kyrgyz government press service quoted Deputy Prime Minister Taiyrbek Sarpashev as telling Rodney Stuparyk, vice president of Kumtor Operating Company (KOC), which runs the mine.   Continued...