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Canadian miner rejects Kyrgyz environmental claim

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) -- A Canadian-based mining company operating in Kyrgyzstan says the $152-million claim from the Central Asian nation for environmental damages caused by a gold field it is developing is exaggerated and without foundation.

Centerra Gold said in a statement Friday that independent experts determined Kumtor mine project had no materially significant environmental issues.

Kumtor, which accounts for about 12 percent of the Kyrgyz economy, has been at the center of heated political debate among those seeking its nationalization and officials who believe that would deter much-needed foreign investment.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 5 million people on China's mountainous western border, has come to prominence in recent years because it hosts a U.S. air base used to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.