September 24, 2008

Govt Not Planning to Strip Polyus Gold of Natalka License – Minister

MAGADAN. Sept 24 (Interfax) - The criticism that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev leveled at Polyus Goldf (RTS: PLZL) does not mean that the government intends to strip the country's No. 1 gold producer of its license to develop the big Natalkinskoye deposit in the Magadan region, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina told reporters in Magadan.

"The president's criticism of the company does not mean that the government intends to strip it of the license to develop the deposit," Nabiullina said.

"This was the head of state's firm invocation for the company to work more lucidly and to tie business interests in with state interests," she said.

Medvedev criticized remarks by some Russian business leaders made at a meeting on the development of the Magadan region.

"I appreciate it isn't easy for businesses to operate, that there's still a lot of bureaucracy, but there's no need to whinge about it," Medvedev said.

A Polyus Gold subsidiary holds the license to the Natalkinskoye gold deposit, also known as Natalka, which is one of the world's biggest. Commercial development has not yet started at the field.

"You are aware of what's going on in the world gold market. If gold mining is marginal for you then stop doing it. We'll find somebody else. If you want we can take the license back," Medvedev said, addressing Yevgeny Ivanov, the chief executive of Polyus Gold.

At the same time, Medvedev said the local authorities and ministry officials ought to adopt a more serious and considerate approach towards business.

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