Keep politics out of mining companies' work in Kyrgyzstan - president
BISHKEK. Feb 7 (Interfax) - It is inadmissible to politicize issues related to the work of Kyrgyzstan's mining companies, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said.
"The mining industry is one of the main budget-revenue-generating sectors of the country's economy and creates jobs for the population [...] The politicization of issues related to activities of mining companies is absolutely inadmissible," Jeenbekov said during a meeting with Ulanbek Ryskulov, the chair of the State Committee for Industry, Energy, and Natural Resource Management, on Wednesday.
It is possible to avoid social discontent over mining in the regions by means of conducting transparent competitions and auctions, as well as through increasing the awareness of the population, the Kyrgyz president said.
Discussing investment policy in this sector, Jeenbekov mentioned the importance of "creating favorable conditions for investors and [of] clear monitoring of their fulfillment of statutory obligations."
"Only environmental experts can determine exactly whether a mining company complies with the ecological security standards or not," Jeenbekov said.
"If it is proven that activities of a mining company don't comply with the requirements of the republic's legislation and are detrimental to ecological safety, then such projects should not be implemented in the country," Jeenbekov said.
"Kyrygzstan's national wealth should be used for the benefit of the country and in compliance with all environmental norms," he said.
Jeenbekov also recommended that the state committee involve representatives of local communities in environmental monitoring in areas where mining companies are active, visit facilities more often, review enterprises' operations thoroughly, and work closely with citizens.
Last week, local residents of the southern Jalal-Abad and Batken regions held protests against the development of the Makmal and Shambesay goldmines in the Toguz-Torouz district of the Jalal-Abad region and the Kadamjay district of the Batken region, respectively. They demanded that mining companies observe ecological laws in developing mines and claimed that dangerous chemical compounds used to process ores subsequently get into the water and the soil.
Local residents insist that gold extraction at the mines be stopped unless it is proven to be fully safe.
Local authorities, for their part, said that the operations of the two goldmines bring tax revenues to district budgets and promised to raise the awareness of the population with respect to mining companies in order to "find common ground."