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4 February 2022

Reclamation in Kyrgyzstan: Causes of Conflict After Cessation of Mining

Since independence, there has not been a single mine in Kyrgyzstan that has worked without conflict between investors and the local population. The main cause of friction is environmental pollution. Field studies conducted in in 2019 in Naryn, Ala-Buka and Chatkal regions of Kyrgyzstan showed that local resistance, often leading to serious conflicts, was caused by poor management after the cessation of mining, unclear and outdated laws, and lack of awareness of the reclamation processes by local authorities and residents. Kyrgyzstan seems to be focused on the socio-economic benefits of mining rather than its environmental impact and consequent issues faced by the local population. The current legislation, based on legislations from the Soviet Union as reference, do not provide a detailed methodology for the management of facilities after the cessation of mining. The term “reclamation” itself does not have a clear definition in legal documents. The clear definition of this term would be an important step towards better accountability within the mining industry. In addition, unclear timelines for land reclamation allow mining companies to exploit regulatory loopholes avoiding costly land reclamation processes.