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Kyrgyz Lawmakers Reject Mining Deal

The Kumtor Gold Mine operating at night in the Tien-Shan region of Kyrgyzstan, at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level.
BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz parliament has rejected a government-proposed deal with Canada's Centerra Gold company on operating Kyrgyzstan's largest gold mine, Kumtor.

The deal called for setting up a joint venture in which both Centerra and the Kyrgyz government would own 50 percent of shares. Under a 2009 deal, the Kyrgyz government stake was set at around 33 percent.

Parliament said on October 23 the government must agree on a new deal with Centerra by December 23 to raise Kyrgyz ownership to 67 percent. Centerra's director, Ian Atkinson, said his company would not agree to having less than a 50 percent share.

Meanwhile, on October 23, hundreds of local citizens again protested in northern Issyk-Kul Province, where Kumtor is located, demanding the mine's nationalization.