Violence rocks Chinese mine in Kyrgyzstan

By Liu Linlin Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-26 0:30:04

Chinese businesses in Kyrgyzstan are hoping the outwardly harmonious international relations between the governments of the two countries can start to focus on the tense reality on the ground following a violent confrontation between local villagers and Chinese workers at a gold mine in the Central Asian nation.

Around 450 villagers living near Taldy-Bulak Levoberejny gold mine threatened Monday to destroy the offices of the Chinese company exploiting the resource, reported the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The protest was triggered by an accident in which a villager's horse was killed by an excavator driven by a Chinese worker, but resentment appears to have been building ever since Zijin Mining Group from Fujian Province bought the mine in August 2011.

"It is very hard for Chinese firms to do business in Kyrgyzstan, because regulations are a mess and other pressures from the public," the head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Kyrgyzstan, who only gave his surname Li, told the Global Times.

Li also suggested that Chinese mining companies should reconsider doing business in   Kyrgyzstan.

"The current conditions cannot guarantee there will be a steady revenue stream," Li said.

The mine employs about 300 Chinese workers and some 260 local workers.

Li said many people in the area feel they are not getting a fair share of the benefits from mining and they are frustrated with the foreign firms.

In 2011, Altynken Limited Liability Company sold the mine to Zijin for $660 million.

More than 50 Chinese mining companies have set up operations in Kyrgyzstan since 2009, according to statistics from the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan.

The embassy said the protests at Taldy-Bulak Levoberejny have ended and the company has sent representatives to the area to negotiate with the locals.

Operations at the mine have not yet resumed and the 300 Chinese workers have been moved to another village.

RIA Novosti reported the protests sent two locals to hospital and eight were arrested.

The embassy also said the dispute is a result of a number of complicated issues in Kyrgyzstan and were not targeting Chinese firms alone.

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