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Kyrgyz protesters end blockade of gold mine road

* Protesters call off blockade of Kumtor mine road

* Politicians agree to debate ecology - protester

* Previous strikes, blockades have jeopardised gold output

* Mine contributed 12 pct of Kyrgyz GDP last year

By Olga Dzyubenko

BISHKEK, June 4 (Reuters) - Kyrgyz protesters have removed a blockade of the road leading to Centerra Gold’s Kumtor mine, allowing supplies to resume without any disruption to production at an enterprise crucial to the economy of the Central Asian state.

Villagers who had blocked the only road to the mine for three days allowed trucks to pass freely from Saturday evening after officials held talks with protesters, representatives of the company and the protesters said on Monday.

“There has been no damage to the company. Production at the mine was not stopped and supplies to the mine have resumed,” said Sergei Dedyukhin, spokesman for Kumtor Operating Company, the local unit of Centerra Gold.

The economy in Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous former Soviet republic where per capita GDP is less than a tenth of that in neighbouring Kazakhstan, relies heavily on Kumtor’s gold production and remittances from migrant workers.

One of the highest altitude gold mines in the world at nearly 4,000 metres above sea level, Kumtor contributed nearly 12 percent of gross domestic product and more than half of Kyrgyzstan’s export revenues last year.

More than 100 members of a national youth movement had stopped miners and fuel supplies from entering the gorge that runs to the mine on Wednesday evening. Their demands included environmental protection for the region around the mine.

Naris Kalchayev, a local leader of the Kyrgyz Youth Council, said by telephone that politicians had agreed to form an ecological commission and that the issue would be raised in parliament this month.

Toronto-based Centerra Gold has said any repeat of a 10-day strike in February could jeopardise the mine’s ability to meet a 2012 output target that has already been reduced by a third due to ice movement in the high-altitude pit.

Centerra Gold forecasts gold output of 390,000 to 410,000 ounces this year, down from its previous estimate of 575,000 to 625,000 ounces. Kumtor accounted for over 90 percent of the 583,156 ounces produced by Centerra last year.

The Kyrgyz state owns 33 percent of Centerra Gold, which also produces gold in Mongolia. (Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Mark Potter)

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