The last few weeks underscore why investors are wary of investing in Kyrgyzstan’s mining sector. Over that span, a gold-mine tender was sidetracked by a legal dispute, a scandal brewed involving allegations of conflicts of interest in parliament, and villagers near a potential mining site signaled they would strongly oppose development.
On May 13, an auction for the right to develop Jerooy, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest gold deposit with up to 100 tons of gold reserves, fell flat. Even after an extension, authorities claim to have received only one bid, and they won’t discuss it.
Bishkek put a $300 million price tag on Jerooy for the tender, but according to Valentin Bogdetski, head of the Kyrgyz Mining Association, an industry lobby, a number of factors conspired to make it look too risky for investors.
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.