Parliament lifted ban on uranium mining in Kyrgyzstan

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The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan has finally approved a bill lifting the ban on uranium and thorium mining in Kyrgyzstan.

The bill was adopted at a session of the Jogorku Kenesh on June 13 in both the second and third readings.

The bill nullifies the law "On Prohibiting Activities Related to Geological Exploration with the Aim of Prospecting, Exploring, and Developing Uranium and Thorium Deposits in Kyrgyzstan," which was passed in 2019 amid protests against uranium mining at the Kyzyl-Ompol site near Lake Issyk-Kul.

The head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Akylbek Zhaparov, personally answered parliamentary questions about the bill, highlighting the government's plans for mining uranium and thorium ores, which Kyrgyzstan is rich in.

He stated that the 2019 ban on uranium and thorium mining was adopted hastily without consulting specialists.

When the law was passed, active supporters of the ban included NGOs and opponents of developing mines hazardous to people and the environment. They succeeded in imposing a moratorium on development, which the then government of Kyrgyzstan agreed to. At that time, it was planned that a Russian company would develop the deposit.

Speaking to parliamentarians, the current head of the Government of Kyrgyzstan, Zhaparov, assured that the Cabinet's goal is not to mine uranium and thorium, but other rare metals for sale. He emphasized that all safety measures will be taken during the transportation of uranium waste, among other things.

"If we start selling not only gold but also titanomagnetite (significant reserves are located at the Kyzyl-Ompol site, which the authorities intend to develop), we will move to a different stage of development," said Zhaparov.

As of today, ten companies are registered for uranium mining in the country, with two - "Shun Tai" and "UKG Holding" - having foreign capital.

The Cabinet's proposal to lift the moratorium on the exploration and development of uranium and thorium deposits in Kyrgyzstan became known at the end of February. At that time, President Sadyr Zhaparov announced that the authorities themselves intended to develop the Kyzyl-Ompol deposit.

June 13, 2024