Centerra Gold Kyrgyzstan office hit by protests

Kumtor is Kyrgyzstan’s largest gold mine. (Image courtesy of Centerra Gold)

The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, home to major gold and copper mines, fell deeper into chaos as rival opposition factions made grabs for power on Wednesday, a day after they stormed government buildings, forcing the prime minister to quit and a parliamentary election to be declared invalid.

A large crowd gathered in the capital Bishkek, demanding the impeachment of the country’s President, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who hinted earlier that he was ready to stand down.

Kumtor, the Kyrgyz Republic’s largest gold mine, accounted for most of Centerra’s production last year

Some of the protesters broke into Canadian-owned Kumtor Gold Company office, Russian news agencies Tass and Sputnik reported. The space was empty, as all employees have been working remotely since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, local news site 24.kg said.

The news comes only a day after Canada’s Centerra Gold (TSX: CG), the owner of the massive Kumtor gold mine, tried reassuring investors by saying operations continued as usual.

Kumtor, the Kyrgyz Republic’s largest gold operation, accounted for most of Centerra’s production last year. The mine, which lies near the Chinese border at an altitude of 4,000 metres, contributed 600,201 ounces to the total 783,308 ounces the Toronto-based miner generated in 2019, despite having been momentarily suspended due to a waste rock dump movement in December

Several other miners have reported attacks on their offices and facilities since Tuesday. Those include London-based Kaz Minerals, which suspended production at its Bozymchak copper-gold mine after a reported attack on another gold deposit.

Kyrgyzstan has a history of popular uprisings and political turmoil, ever since gaining its independence after the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. Protesters had ousted two prior PMs in revolutions in 2005 and 2010.

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