Kyrgyz court fines Canadian gold miner 2.5 billion euros

BISHKEK (AFP/APP): A court in Kyrgyzstan has fined Canadian-owned miner Koumtor Gold Company more than 2.5 billion dollars for environmental pollution at the country’s biggest gold mine.

Koumtor, part of Canada’s Centerra Gold group, was accused of stocking waste for years on two glaciers close to the operation.

“Bishkek’s Oktiabrski court decided on May 7 to fine Koumtor Gold Company 261.7 billion soms,” (2.53 billion euros, $3.1 billion)”, a court spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

The verdict fell a day after parliament passed a bill allowing the government to enforce “external management” on a foreign firm if environmental laws have been broken.

New President Sadyr Japarov, who has long opposed Centerra’s activities amid demands for nationalisation, still has to sign the legislation for it to enter into force.

Centerra Gold shares plunged 29.8 percent on Friday in Toronto following the parliamentary vote in Bishkek.

The group issued a statement saying the mining operation followed international environmental standards and expressed surprise at how parliament managed the required three readings of the bill in a single day.

The accusation was “entirely meritless”, Centerra said.

The Koumtor mine employs 4,00 people and, according to its own figures, accounted for 12.5 percent of the impoverished Central Asian nation’s GDP in 2020.