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Chaarat Gold’s project in Kyrgyzstan hit by Centerra turmoil

Tulkubash’s development camp. (Image courtesy of Chaarat Gold’s presentation.)

Chaarat Gold Holdings (LON: CGH) unveiled on Wednesday financing and construction delays at its Tulkubash project in Kyrgyzstan due to increased investor uncertainty in the Central Asian country in the wake of Centerra Gold’s (TSX: CG) dispute over its seized mine.

The company, which once tried and failed to buy Centerra’s Kumtor gold operation in Kyrgyzstan, said it hoped to close debt financing for Tulkubash in the second half of the year.

First gold pour at the project has been further delayed from 2023 to the second half of 2024, Chaarat said in the statement.

Canada’s Centerra and the Kyrgyz government have clashed over financial and environmental issues related to Kumtor for years. Their standoff took a turn for the worse in May 2021, when the nation took control of the mine, alleging the company was running it in a way detrimental for both the environment and nearby communities.

Based on recent news about the issue from Centerra and Kyrgyz authorities, Chaarat said it expects a resolution of the situation soon, which would allow it to continue discussions around a standalone financing or a comprehensive refinancing of its current debt outstanding and financing of Tulkubash.

“Construction progress at Tulkubash was negatively impacted by the delay in our debt financing efforts,” executive chairperson Martin Andersson said in the statement. “The Kumtor situation had led to cautiousness in the market and until the issue is resolved, funding remains a challenge.”

Chaarat, which has an operating mine in Armenia and assets at various stages of development in the Kyrgyz Republic, reported production of 63,000 gold equivalent ounces last year, including 14,000 ounces from third-party ore output. The figure beat its 2021 guidance of 57,000 ounces.

This year, it expects to produce between 50,000 and 53,000 ounces from its own ore and an additional 6,000 to 9,000 ounces from third-party ore.