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Kyrgyz Cabinet In Urgent Debate On Kumtor Gold Mine

A view of an open pit at the Kumtor gold mine in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan
BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz cabinet is holding an urgent meeting to discus a deal with Canada's Centerra Gold Company to exploit Kyrgyzstan's largest gold mine, Kumtor.

The chief of state gold producer Kyrgyzaltyn, Dilger Japarov, told RFE/RL that the January 7 session follows President Almazbek Atambaev's harsh criticism the previous day of a draft agreement with Centerra outlined by the government last month.

Atambaev demanded that the document be withdrawn from parliament for revision by the cabinet, saying it "ignores Kyrgyzstan's national interests."

ALSO READ: Questioning The Environmental Cost Of Kyrgyzstan's Kumtor Gold Mine

The original deal signed in 2003 gave the Kyrgyz government a 17-percent stake in Kumtor, with Centerra receiving an 83 percent share.

The deal was renegotiated in 2009, giving the Kyrgyz government a 33-percent share.

The new deal is expected to raise Kyrgyz ownership to 67 percent.

Some activists have consistently pressed for the nationalization of the mine, and the facility has been at the center of frequent protests.