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NOUAKCHOTT, June 19 (Reuters) - Canada's Kinross Gold Corp has suspended activity at its Tasiast mine in Mauritania after the West African country ordered expatriates whose work permits were invalid to stop working, a company source said.
The company "has decided to temporarily shut down the mine following the withdrawal of invalid work permit of expatriates by labor inspection", the source told Reuters late on Saturday.
"A lot of expatriates left the site as well as local staff. There is only a small handful of people for the minimum maintenance of the equipment", the source added.
"Nobody knows (how long it will last). It will depend on the issue of the negotiations between the company and the government."
In a statement, Mauritania's labour ministry said the decision had been taken during a routine inspection and accused the company of wanting to "escape its obligations".
Kinross Tasiast will "endorse full responsibility for the consequences resulting from its action", the ministry added.
The stoppage comes one week after a nearly three-week strike by unionized workers ended at Tasiast mine.
Kinross approved in March a $300 million first-phase expansion to double Tasiast's production and slash its production costs ( ). (Reporting by Kissima Diagana, Writing by Marine Pennetier, Editing by)