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Uzbek Government Revokes Oxus License

(RFE/RL) August 15, 2006 - Reports from Uzbekistan say authorities have revoked the licence of Britain's Oxus Gold to develop a high-grade deposit of zinc, silver, copper, lead, and gold in southeastern Surkhandariya region's Sarasiya district.

Government sources quoted by Interfax and Reuters say President Islam Karimov last week issued an order giving a state-owned Uzbek company, the Almalyk Mining and Metallurgical Combinate, the right to develop the Khandiza deposit instead of Oxus.

Neither report provides an explanation as to why Karimov made such a decision.

Interfax quoted Oxus's Uzbekistan representatives as saying they are aware of the presidential order.

Uzbekistan has recently seized the assets and output of Zarafshan-Newmont, an U.S.-Uzbek joint venture that operates one of world's biggest open gold pits in the Qizilqum Desert. Authorities cited tax arrears allegedly owed by the company to justify the move.

(Interfax, Reuters)

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