DUSHANBE, September 12, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- More than 1,500 workers at Tajik-Chinese gold mining company, Zervashan Gold Company (ZGC), have reportedly demanded wage increase.

One of workers with ZGC, who wanted to remain unnamed, told Asia-Plus Monday afternoon that the company workers went on strike Monday morning, demanding wage increase.

According to him, they do not want to work hard for 450-500 somoni per month, while Chinese specialists receive 15-20 times more than local workers.  “The company administration has promised to resolve the issue,” the source said.

In the meantime, the ZGC deputy director general, Bobokhon Bobokhonov, says that no strike was held at the company Monday morning.  “There was just a technical error regarding payroll accounting,” said Bobokhonov.  “It was a computer incident.  They are currently resolving the issue.” 

 ZGC was launched as a joint venture with Nelson Resources Ltd (44%) and the Tajikistan government (51%) and the IFC (5%) in 1994. In September 2002, Avocet signed a heads of agreement to acquire the Tajik gold assets of Toronto-based Nelson Resources Ltd held through Nelson''s subsidiary, Commonwealth and British Minerals Ltd.  The assets included a 44% interest in Zeravshan Gold. In November 2004, Avocet increased its equity interest in ZGC from 49% to 75%.  In late July 2007, Avocet sold its equity stake in ZGC to Zijin Mining. ZGC owns gold mining and exploration rights to a 300,000-hectare area near the town of Panjakent in northern Tajikistan.

Tajikistan has 28 known gold deposits containing an estimated 429.3 tons of gold.  The largest amount of gold was produced in Tajikistan in 1998 – 3,000 kilograms, while the country has produced not more than 1,800 kilograms of gold per year in recent years. Most of gold comes from the Jilau deposit operated by ZGC.

Three large gold mining companies now operate in Tajikistan: ZGC; Tilloi Tojik; and Tajik-Canadian JV Aprelevka.  Besides, the private gold mining artel, Odina, operates in Khatlon province.

According to estimates of specialists from the Ministry of Energy and Industries, 2.5 tons of gold will be produced in Tajikistan this year.