The Kumtor Gold Mine: Spewing Toxics From On High
Briefing | 4 September 2000
Located at almost 4,000 meters in the remote Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the Kumtor gold mine is believed to be the eighth largest gold field in the world. In 1998, a cyanide and sodium hypochloride spill associated with the mine reportedly left several people dead, hundreds seeking medical treatment, and thousands evacuated. The defensive and evasive response from the International Finance Corperation (IFC) and its client in the aftermath of the spill, including an ongoing lack of information disclosure, and a community development process that is perceived to be contrived, have contributed to public distrust of the project and of foreign-financed development. Other conditions surrounding the Kumtor project, including the lack of adequate government emergency response and medical preparedness, also place in question IFC’s willingness or ability to control impacts of its projects.