Kyrgyzstan has regained control over the Kumtor gold mine after an ownership transfer agreement was signed with the mine’s former owner, Canadian miner Centerra Gold, media reported on Saturday.
Kumtor is one of the largest gold mines in Central Asia and used to be among Kyrgyzstan’s biggest foreign investment projects. However, it came into the spotlight last year when reports emerged of threats to the local environment posed by the mine. As a result, Kyrgyzstan launched a legal battle to reclaim the site from the Canadian firm.
The procedure for the exchange of documents confirming the transfer process took place at Kyrgyzstan’s embassy in the UK.
“On July 29, 2022, all necessary deeds of transfer, powers of attorney, and certificates for the registration of a full transfer of ownership of 100% of shares of Kumtor Gold Company and Kumtor Operating Company in favor of [state-owned miner] Kyrgyzaltyn were given to the ambassador of Kyrgyzstan in the UK Ulan Djusupov,” stated the press release of the office of the Kyrgyz president.
Under the agreement, Kyrgyzstan gets full legal control of the mine and the gold produced there since May 15, 2021. It is also entitled to dividends from Centerra Gold totaling $11 million, a one-time payment of $50 million and the reclamation fund for the Kumtor mine of about $53 million. In exchange, Kyrgyzaltyn will be giving up its 26% stake in Centerra Gold and its 77.4 million common shares, worth roughly $972 million, in the Canadian miner for cancellation.
Centerra Gold has owned and operated the mine through its subsidiary Kumtor Gold under an agreement with the government since 2009. However, in May 2021, the Kyrgyz government took over the mine, citing environmental and safety concerns, as well as its claim that the company had underpaid taxes. Centerra Gold denied those allegations, slammed the move as state appropriation and initiated international arbitration to challenge Kyrgyzstan’s actions. However, in April, the company announced it had agreed to sell its business interests in Kyrgyzstan and exit the country.
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