BUSINESS

Centerra Gold's Kumtor Mine Stormed In Protest; Kyrgyzstan Declares State Of Emergency

05/31/2013 12:24 EDT | Updated 05/31/2013 12:24 EDT
AP

As many as 2,000 protesters stormed a Canadian-owned mine in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, prompting the central Asian country's government to declare a state of emergency.

Protesters hurled rocks during clashes with police Friday that injured 50 people and ended with 80 arrests, the Associated Press reports, after nearly a week of protests that saw demonstrators cut off the main road leading to Centerra Gold's Kumtar mine.

Some protesters are demanding the nationalization of the mine, which accounts for a hefty 12 per cent of the country's economy. Others called on Centerra to provide more in social benefits, demanding such things as the construction of a kindergarten, development of roads and water pipelines, or jobs at the mine, Reuters reported.

Based in Toronto and listed on the TSX, Centerra Gold has two primary gold mines: the Kumtar mine in Kyrgyzstan and the Boroo gold mine in Mongolia. The company's annual revenue exceeds $1 billion.

On Thursday, protesters cut off the power supply to the mine, prompting Centerra to issue a warning that it could see its financial results impacted by the demonstrations. The company called the protests "illegal."

By Friday, riot police were using stun grenades and rubber bullets in efforts to disperse some 2,000 protesters who attempted to storm the mine's office, AP reported. Thirteen police were wounded and a bus was set on fire.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev imposed a state of emergency and a curfew on Dzhety Ohuz district until June 10, Reuters reports.

"Those who broke the law must be brought to justice in line with the full severity of the law," Atambayev said.

Canadian mining companies — which dominate the global industry — have been plagued with protests around the world.

Tens of thousands of Colombians protested Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals Corp. last month over concerns about the water supply near its operations.

Last summer, three engineers working for South American Silver were kidnapped by indigenous people in the area who have been working to push the company out of the country.

And Excellon Mines bulldozed a protest encampment at a minerals mine in Mexico last summer, after demonstrators cut off access to the La Platosa facility over a dispute on land use.

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