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Uzbekistan Freezes Assets Of Gold Mining Venture

Extracting gold in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) August 3, 2006 -- News reports from Uzbekistan say authorities there have frozen the assets of the Zarafshan-Newmont gold mining joint venture.

AFP today quotes the company as saying the government has also frozen gold shipments out of the country and that tax authorities have seized part of its output.

There has been no immediate confirmation from Uzbek officials.

Half of Zarafshan-Newmont belongs to the Newmont Mining Corporation, one of the largest gold producers in the world, which is headquartered in the U.S. state of Colorado.

The joint venture is located in the Kyzylkum desert and operates one of the largest open-pit gold mines in the world.

Other reports this week quoted unnamed company officials as saying Newmont was considering selling its 50 percent stake in the joint venture.

Earlier this year, a court ruled that Zarafshan-Newmont should pay $48 million in tax arrears and fines. The company has said it will appeal the court's decision.

(AFP, Turkiston Press,, Interfax)

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