Emerging Australian gold company Kentor Gold says it’s encouraged by the Kyrgyz government’s moves to change a parliamentary decree opposing the development of the Andash copper-gold project.

The government has written a letter to the parliamentary economic development committee calling for the June 2011 decree to be amended to remove the requirement to revoke permits and cancel land use permits while requiring that an independent international environmental review of the project be conducted.

The proposed amendment would still require activity at the Andash deposit to remain suspended pending completion of the environmental review and resolution of the issue with the local community.

The government has conceded the 70,000 gold ounce and 7400 tonne copper project meets environmental requirements and will provide considerable benefits to the local region.

Kentor’s managing director Simon Milroy says, “This is undoubtedly a move in the right direction and although the ongoing delays are disappointing, an independent environmental audit will serve to advance negotiations with the local community going forward.

“Allegations of environmental risk have been used by a small section of the community to raise anxiety about the proposed development. We have no doubt that the environmental protection measures forming an integral part of our mine development and operation will be favourably endorsed by any reputable environmental auditors.”

Simon Milroy says any residual anxiety in the local community should be resolved once the issue of environmental risk has been put aside.

Andash is in the country’s north-west, within the Tien Shan gold belt that extends across Central Asia. It is 280km from the capital Bishkek with a major rail line, water and power line nearby.

In other news, the parliamentary economic development committee has called on the Kyrgyz government to take comprehensive measures for the development of the Andash, Jerooy and Taldybulak Levoberezhniv deposits and also has a proposal before parliament requiring legislation to strengthen penalties against people or groups who interfere illegally with the activity of companies carrying out mining and geological work within licensed areas.