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30 June 2021

Understanding Gold Mining and Social Conflicts in Kyrgyzstan

While the development of the mining sector continues to be a strategic priority for Kyrgyzstan, local resistance against gold mining exploitation has been on the rise.

Since 2010 there has been an upsurge in social protests related to mining activities from local residents who typically have limited power to negotiate their interests over mining exploitations and preserve their livelihoods.

Additionally, the industry has attracted criticism for its lack of transparency, trust and corruption, and environmental damage. Accordingly, this paper examines the root causes of conflict dynamics related to mining activities in Kyrgyzstan with a focus on Chinese mining operations in the country.

This study was motivated by indications that conflict incidents associated with Chinese mining operations in Kyrgyzstan have increased dramatically in recent years. The study is based on observations in the mining sector and draws its analysis from interviews conducted in Chatkal, Ala Buka and Naryn sites.

Suggested Citation: Furstenberg, Saipira and Kemel Toktomushev. “Understanding gold mining and social conflicts in Kyrgyzstan.” University of Central Asia – Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA) Working Paper №63, 2021, pp. 1-22.

JEL classification: Q32, Q38, Q58

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