Kyrgyz rally blocks road to Canadian company's gold mine

Protesters have been blocking a road to Kyrgyzstan's largest gold mine for a week, hindering shipments to the Canadian-operated mine demanding compensation for a cyanide spill into the local river.

About 30 people have been blocking the road to the Kumtor mine in the Central Asian nation's remote northeast since last Thursday, demanding compensation for a cyanide spill into a river in the village of Barskoon in 1998, Kumtor Operating Company spokeswoman Tynara Shaildayeva said.

She said that the protesters are also calling for the mine's closure, but said their demands were unfounded because the company had already paid about US$2.3 million (Ђ1.9 million) to the Kyrgyz government to compensate for environmental damage.

Shaildayeva said that production has not been affected by the roadblock, but that the company has been having difficulties delivering supplies and getting workers to the mine.

On Tuesday, the Kyrgyz government set up a commission made up of senior officials to resolve the incident.

Kumtor is owned and operated by Centerra Gold Inc., a joint venture set up last year with Canada's Cameco Corp. to boost the impoverished ex-Soviet republic's revenues from the mine.

Canada-based Centerra is the biggest foreign investor in this impoverished ex-Soviet nation of 5 million, the AP reports.

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