Mining in the Kyrgyz Republic remains a sensitive area, and major investors must consider both politics and economics when determining whether to enter the local market. However, supplying the mining industry provides opportunities for U.S. exporters. The Kyrgyz Republic is home to a plethora [WS1] of minerals, including gold, iron, copper, coal, and antimony. It should be noted that since the beginning of 2020, new legislation has entered into force, banning the development of uranium and thorium deposits, as well as the import of uranium-containing raw materials.
The economic output of the Kumtor gold mine is greater than all other mines in the country combined. Kumtor, the largest gold producer in the Kyrgyz Republic and operator of the namesake mine, produces 10-23 metric tons of gold per year. In operation since 1996, it has estimated proven and probable “contained gold” reserves of 114 metric tons. The Kyrgyz Republic owns approximately 30% of the shares of Centerra Gold, the Canadian parent of Kumtor. The macroeconomic impact of the Kumtor mine is substantial, comprising a significant share of the industrial sector and 9.8% of GDP in 2019.
The government continues to seek ways to improve transparency in the sector, but it has a long way to go before meeting international standards. The Kyrgyz Republic’s membership in the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) was suspended in 2017 for inadequate progress overall in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard, citing a need for improvement in terms of disclosure of information related to the extractive sector. Kumtor has been a politically sensitive topic in the Kyrgyz Republic since the company’s inception and, while the local communities have not targeted the Canadian mine in recent years, they have protested against new Chinese-owned and operated mining sites in both 2018-2019
The State Committee on Industry, Energy and Subsoil Use maintains a website to update prospective investors about sites and bids. It is in Russian, Kyrgyz, and English, though the English is not updated as regularly as the other two.
- Feasibility and exploration studies: Foreign firms are commonly employed to conduct feasibility studies, as well as to further explore potential reserves.
- Mining & ore processing equipment: U.S.-manufactured machinery, particularly excavating, loading, and transportation equipment, is utilized at the Kumtor gold mine. Such equipment could be used at other mines, following further investment and construction. Kumtor’s namesake operator procures U.S.-manufactured parts and supplies, and periodically makes significant capital expenditures on U.S.-manufactured equipment in support of mine operations.
- Development of existing and new mineral deposits: Gold, silver, tin, copper, tungsten, coal, oil, natural gas, antimony, and other minerals can be exploited with additional investment and development.
Could mention uranium ban in this section instead if you think it should be noted. [WS1]