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Kyrgyz Protesters Demand Compensation From Canadian Gold Miner

SARUU, Kyrgyzstan -- Citizens living close to Kyrgyzstan's biggest gold mine in the country's north are demanding compensation for environmental problems.

Some 200 protesters gathered in the village of Saruu near Kumtor mine on May 27, saying they want the mine's operator, Canada-based Centerra Gold Company, to build a hospital and a pharmacy providing local population with free medicine.

The protest comes three weeks after a Kyrgyz government commission started looking into potential environmental problems that could be caused by unstable waste heaps at Kumtor.

In February, the Kyrgyz parliament gave the government three months to renegotiate the terms of the 2009 contract on Kumtor.

The deal granted Centerra Gold a low tax rate that officials now say deprives Kyrgyzstan's budget of many millions of dollars.

Kyrgyzstan's political opposition has been demanding the nationalization of Kumtor.