BISHKEK (TCA) — The operation of China’s Zhong Ji Mining Company at the Solton-Sary gold mine in Kyrgyzstan’s Naryn province has been suspended following clashes between local residents and workers from the Chinese company.
The decision was made on the basis of findings by the State Inspectorate of Ecological and Technical Safety under the Government of Kyrgyzstan, the Government’s press service said on August 7.
The Chinese company is currently removing machinery and foreign workers from the mining area, 24.kg news agency reports with reference to the Kyrgyz Government’s office.
Dozens of people were injured in the clashes between local residents and workers of the Chinese company on August 5, when about 500 local residents gathered near the Solton-Sary mine, entered the construction site of a new industrial facility operated by the company, and brawled with Chinese workers.
The Kyrgyz Health Ministry said on August 6 that 20 Chinese workers had been hospitalized with different injuries after the conflict.
Locals demanded that the Chinese company leave the mining area.
The conflict has been brewing since July after locals blamed the Chinese company for the mass death of livestock, saying the mining firm has contaminated the local environment. (See The Times of Central Asia article entitled “Kyrgyzstan: Conflicts of local population with mining companies continue”.)
On August 6, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Mukhammedkaly Abylgaziev held a meeting on the situation at the Solton-Sary field and said that the situation should not be transformed into a political issue and all disputes should be resolved in a legal framework.
Later on August 6 the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan made a statement concerning the situation at the Solton-Sary field, asking the Kyrgyz Government to take effective measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and ensure the safety of Chinese citizens, 24.kg news agency reported.
Zhong Ji Mining obtained a license to develop the Solton-Sary gold mine in 2012.
Experts estimate that the site has some 11 tons of gold.