(Updates with comments from operation manager in third paragraph.)
Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Gold Fields Ltd. halted plans to restart drilling at its Talas copper and gold exploration project in Kyrgyzstan after horsemen attacked the mining camp and leaders at a nearby village were threatened with death if they cooperate with the company.
The mining camp near Aral village was attacked by horsemen armed with petrol bombs and sticks just after midnight on Oct. 8, the company said in an a statement dated Oct. 10 and e-mailed today. Drilling, due to resume in November, won’t go ahead until the security of villagers has been guaranteed, said David Grant, the head of the operation.
“Drilling is suspended until the authorities are able to bring those organizing the conflict to justice,” he said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “We are not prepared to put people’s lives at risk in Aral.”
Gold Fields, which is based in Johannesburg, is trying to boost the share of its production it gets from operations outside South Africa. The company also operates mines in Peru, Ghana and Australia.
Several buildings were set on fire during the attack and the camp’s security manager was “severely beaten” as he ran from a burning building, Gold Fields said.
“The majority of the local population are supportive of Talas Copper Gold activity,” Grant said. “The opposition is organized by a very small group who appear to have outside support and are prepared to use any means to achieve their objectives.”
--Editors: Alex Devine, John Viljoen
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