Higher gold output gives big boost to Kyrgyz GDP in 2013

BISHKEK Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:05am EST

BISHKEK Jan 15 (Reuters) - Kyrgyzstan's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 10.5 percent in 2013, propelled by a sharp rise in output of the Kumtor gold mine run by Canada's Centerra Gold, official data showed on Wednesday.

The Central Asian state's GDP shrank by 0.1 percent in 2012 when output at Kumtor, in the Tien Shan mountains near the border with China, was slashed by ice movement in the pit. Earlier estimates had put GDP decline at 0.9 percent in 2012.

Gold output at Kumtor grew to 600,402 ounces last year from 315,238 ounces in 2012, according to Centerra Gold data released this week.

Last year's GDP growth was faster than a 7.8 percent rise forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Without taking Kumtor into account, Kyrgyz GDP would have grown by 5.8 percent last year, the National Statistics Committee said in a report.

Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim nation of 5.5 million, remains one of the poorest former Soviet republics. Kumtor is a major hard currency earner in a country where per capita GDP is just a tenth of that in oil-rich neighbour Kazakhstan.

Driven largely by higher gold output, Kyrgyzstan's industrial output soared by 34.3 percent in 2013 after a 20.2-percent plunge a year earlier.

The government expects GDP to rise 6.9 percent this year. The IMF sees economic growth at 6.5 percent in 2014, mainly owing to recovery in gold output.

However, a dispute over the size of Centerra Gold's stake in Kumtor, Kyrgyzstan's largest gold mine, could cloud bright growth forecasts. Protests over Centerra's involvement in the mining operation staged by Kyrgyz nationalists briefly halted production in May last year.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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