BISHKEK -- A Chinese company has suspended its operations at a Kyrgyz gold mine after clashes ensued between local residents and company workers.
Deputy Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov said on August 7 that the decision to suspend the activity of the Zhong Ji Mining company was made after tests performed in the area by an environmental safety commission.
Boronov's statement, which did not give further details, came two days after hundreds of local residents clashed with the mining company's employees near the Solton-Sary mine in Kyrgyzstan's east.
The residents were demanding that the company and its employees leave the area.
Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said on August 7 that 47 Chinese citizens were injured during the clashes but none of them was hospitalized.
It is unclear how many Kyrgyz citizens were injured during the clashes. The ministry said that one Kyrgyz man remained in hospital on August 7.
The Chinese Embassy in Bishkek demanded in an August 6 statement that the Kyrgyz authorities "thoroughly investigate the incident, severely punish those responsible, and bring the situation to a fair and proper resolution."
Last month, locals blamed the Chinese company for the high death rate of their livestock, saying the mining firm had contaminated the environment.
Authorities tested soil samples then and said they had not found any chemicals or high levels of radiation.
However, tensions escalated and two local residents ended up in hospital after getting into a fight with Chinese workers on August 3, an incident that sparked the August 5 clashes and the subsequent protests.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev has ordered a thorough investigation of the situation.
Zhong Ji Mining obtained a license to develop the Solton-Sary gold mine in 2012.
Experts estimate that the site contains some 11 tons of gold.