Protests in Kyrgyzstan forced uranium mining ban
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted on Thursday to ban uranium exploration and mining, despite previously issuing licenses to foreign corporations such as Canada’s Azarga Uranium.
The move, which may expose the Kyrgyz government to compensation claims from foreign investors, followed a series of public protests against plans to develop the Kyzyl Ompul project in which Canadian Azarga has a stake.
“Kyrgyz Parliament has taken a historic decision… Uranium mining will be banned,” speaker Dastan Jumabekov told the legislature after the vote by which it ordered the government to draft the necessary bills to enforce the mining ban.
The only exemption will be made for the reprocessing of trash in Soviet-era tailings.
Kyrgyzstan produces no significant amounts of uranium, which is used to generate electricity in nuclear power stations but has an abandoned uranium mill. A handful of companies from China, the United States and Australia and other countries are exploring local deposits.
UrAsia, the firm developing Kyzyl Ompul and in which Azarga owns a 70 percent stake, is being taken over by the Central Asian Uranium Company for $5.85 million in cash payments and a promise to fund $1.5 million of exploration and development expenses.
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