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Gold Beneath The Snow At Kyrgyzstan's Kumtor Mine

The Kumtor mine in northern Kyrgyzstan, run by the Canadian Centerra Gold company since 1997, is one of the largest gold mines in Central Asia. It's also at the center of a national debate in which some Kyrgyz officials are pushing for a heavier tax burden and environmental fines on the Canadian operator. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service correspondent Janarbek Joldoshbaev visited the site high in the Tian-Shan mountains and filed these photographs. (15 PHOTOS)

The gold field was discovered in 1978.
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The gold field was discovered in 1978.

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The mine, at some 4,000 meters above sea level, is one of the highest gold deposits in the world.
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The mine, at some 4,000 meters above sea level, is one of the highest gold deposits in the world.

A holding tank for water used in the extraction process
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A holding tank for water used in the extraction process

The mine has produced about 270 tons of gold to date.
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The mine has produced about 270 tons of gold to date.

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The Kumtor mine employs more than 2,500 people, mostly Kyrgyz citizens.
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The Kumtor mine employs more than 2,500 people, mostly Kyrgyz citizens.

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A blast breaks apart the rock. According to current estimates, the mine should be productive until 2023.
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A blast breaks apart the rock. According to current estimates, the mine should be productive until 2023.

Parts of the Davidov glacier have been destroyed as part of the mine's expansion.
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Parts of the Davidov glacier have been destroyed as part of the mine's expansion.

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Cases of cyanide used in gold extraction. The toxic chemical can present an environmental hazard if it is not destroyed during the extraction process.
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Cases of cyanide used in gold extraction. The toxic chemical can present an environmental hazard if it is not destroyed during the extraction process.

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