Centerra Gold understands that on Wednesday, April 23, the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic passed a law prohibiting activities which affect glaciers in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Glacier Law must be signed by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic before it will take effect.
Centerra has not received the official version of the Glacier Law and notes that several of its provisions are unclear. The Glacier Law also contains provisions for the payment of compensation for damages to glaciers, at rates to be determined by the Government.
Nevertheless, Centerra believes that the stabilization and non-discrimination provisions contained in the agreements governing the Kumtor project and the law of the Kyrgyz Republic which implemented the project agreements support the view that the Glacier Law would not apply to Kumtor operations. In addition, Centerra believes that any disagreement in relation to the application of the Glacier Law to Kumtor would be subject to the dispute resolution (international arbitration) provisions of the Kumtor Project Agreements.
Limited measures to manage glaciers and ice have been a feature of mining operations at Kumtor from the beginning of the project in 1994 and have been the subject of frequent Kyrgyz regulatory oversight and approval as well as review by international technical and environmental experts, including experts retained by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in connection with the extension of a credit facility to Centerra.
Such measures are necessary to ensure that mine operations can be carried on safely in the open pit. The continuation of mining at Kumtor depends on Centerra’s ability to carry on such activities throughout the life of the mine.
In view of the strategic importance of the Kumtor project to the Kyrgyz Republic, Centerra believes that the Glacier Law is unlikely to be enforced in a manner that would require the project to suspend mining activities.
“We also note that in all our dealings with successive governments of the Kyrgyz Republic, such governments have consistently and emphatically stressed the strategic importance of Kumtor to the Kyrgyz Republic and that mining operations at the project continue uninterrupted, notwithstanding any disagreements that may arise between Centerra and the government regarding the project. We also note that the President of the Kyrgyz Republic has the discretion to reject the Glacier Law and return it to Parliament for further consideration,” the company said in a statement.