Centerra Gold Inc. officials have announced approval of their 2014 Kumtor mine plan by Kyrgyz Republic regulators ahead of a deadline set by the Canadian-based miner, which threatened to shutter operations at the nation’s No. 1 gold deposit; annual production is forecast at up to 600,000 oz.
Bishkek lawmakers were pleased. “We chose the rational option, to avert unpredictable consequences for the economy and ecology,” Valery Dil, deputy prime minister of the economy and investment told Reuters; Under a Q4 draft, Kyrgyzstan would exchange its 32.7% stake for half the mine, Centerra’s primary asset, though the agreement is not finalized.
The Toronto-based Centerra has until August 1 to coordinate work at its Davydov Glacier site in the Tien Shan mountains and register all explored reserves within its licence, said government geology and mineral resources officials. The environment agency, meanwhile, has raised concerns about glacier damage.
Centerra, for its part, conceded the project has “significant geotechnical and other challenges,” including instability of the open pit’s wall, water flows and glacier ice movement; the company had been seeking permit approval since Q4 2013.
The mine, near the Chinese border at 13,000 ft, has been the center of political tension in an impoverished ex-Soviet Republic of 5.5 million seeking to increase state revenues. Kumtor is Kyrgyzstan’s leading taxpayer and employer.