Kyrgyzstan "The Switzerland of Central Asia"..Once

Tuesday, 1 October, 2013

Kyrgyzstan "The Switzerland of Central Asia"... Once

Believe it or not, once upon a time Kyrgyzstan was sometimes described as “the Switzerland of Central Asia.” Not, we were told, just because of the mountains, but also because of the sense that you could ‘get things done’ there in a sensible environment. This period was about half an hour in 2003, but those halcyon days were enough time for three or four international companies to rush into the country and claim metals projects.

The report from Eurasianet below outlines the ongoing saga of Centerra Gold mines (TSX) and who owns the Kumtor gold mine this week. A massive deposit on the Tian Shan gold belt, this year has seen repeated protests at Kumtor (one fatality reported in clashes with armed police), with demands for re-nationalisation and more local benefits. Government offices have also been besieged by a populace that has seen 13 years of foreign ownership of resources assets and very little benefit. 

You can understand the people's frustration, but licensing issues and the country's placing on global corruption charts have been major factors in the failed redevelopment of a natural resources industry with new capital, equipment and techniques. It remains to be seen whether Centerra can work to interact more directly with stakeholders in the country (aka people) to break the view of ‘foreign company coming to take all the value from a national asset’.


image courtesy of Michal Marcol/