Challenging a mining operation that generates about ten percent of GDP in a country and particularly doing so on environmental and social grounds is an intimidating task. But as the example of the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan shows, indefatigability and scientific expertise can persuade decision-makers to defend the interests of a country and its people.
The long awaited EBRD Mining Operations Policy was released last week without much noise. It has taken the EBRD more than 3 years to prepare a document which had raised hopes it could improve the bank's activities in the mining sector. Most of these hopes, however, have not been fulfilled.
Investment data for Mongolia illustrates that without improving the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s plans for the mining sector, the bank may add to the dependence on raw materials exports in resource rich countries.
Centerra Gold is being criticised for its activities in protected areas at the Kumtor gold mine and at another project in Mongolia. More lessons to be learnt for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Following the publication of one official and one shadow report on the Kumtor gold mine, Kyrgyz authorities have responded to the calls of Bankwatch and other environmental groups to take a tougher stance on the Kumtor mining operations. The EBRD should follow their example.
This report, authored by hydrogeologist and geochemist Dr. Robert Moran, reveals that Canadian company Centerra Gold, owner and operator of the Kumtor gold mine, has been contaminating local waters and glaciers while hiding evidence of such negative impacts from public oversight.