Kyrgyzstan has reportedly launched a lawsuit against Canada’s Centerra Gold for its alleged breach of cyber security and employee rights at Kumtor gold mine, which it previously operated.

The litigation accused the Canadian firm of blocking user and administrator access to computers at the gold mine since May 2021.

As a result of this blockade, a criminal case against the company has been filed by the State Committee for National Security of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The lawsuit adds to the ongoing dispute between the two parties over the Kumtor gold mine, which is said to be one of the largest of its kind operating in Central Asia.

This move comes prior to the appointment of a temporary external manager by the government at the mine, reported Reuters citing a government statement.

Centerra Gold spokesperson was cited by Kyrgyz site as saying by “Once again, it appears that the Kyrgyz Government is trying to divert attention from the fact that it sent secret police to seize the Kumtor gold mine.

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“As we have said previously, when government authorities confiscated computers and passwords of individual Kumtor employees, Centerra’s global IT systems restricted user access to preserve the integrity of the organisation’s global IT infrastructure and its confidential information. The mine’s safety systems were not impacted.”

For years, Centerra and the Kyrgyz Government have clashed over the mine’s financial and environmental issues.

In May 2021, the government took control of the mine soon after the initiation of arbitration proceedings by the firm against the government.

The arbitration proceedings were launched in response to the government’s bill that threatened the mine’s takeover in case of the firm flouting environmental regulations.

In September 2021, Centerra Gold called for urgent relief to prevent the government from damaging the mine’s long-term value.