Centerra Gold’s electricity cut off after rioters enter transformer unit
Kyrgyzstan has imposed a state of emergency on a northern district after clashes between riot police and protesters over Centerra Gold’s Kumtor mine.
Hundreds of protesters in Barskoon stormed the office of a gold mine run by the Canadian-based company, demanding its nationalization and more social benefits.
Protests at the Kumtor mine operated by Centerra Gold have been going on for several days. Police arrested 80 people Thursday night after several hundred, some on horseback, entered a power transformer unit and cut off electricity to the mine for several hours. That effectlvely prevented the mine from shutting down.
Centerra says the protests are illegal and that it is working with the government and local authorities to resolve the situation. 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.
“Those who broke the law must be brought to justice in line with the full severity of the law,” it quoted Atambayev as saying during a meeting with security officials.
Kumtor accounts for about 12 per cent of the economy of the impoverished ex-Soviet nation of five million people on China’s mountainous western border.
Toronto-listed Centerra Gold’s mine, hidden in the Tien Shan mountains, is Kyrgyzstan’s largest gold deposit and is vital to the impoverished nation’s economy.
The villagers had put forward a list of demands to Centerra Gold, varying from building roads and a kindergarten and laying water pipelines to giving them long-term loans, offering them jobs at Kumtor, and buying equipment for local hospitals. The protesters moved on Thursday night to an electricity substation feeding the mine and forced its operators to cut off power.
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