Kazakhstan Mining Scene

Kazakhstan is the largest of the states that were formally part of the USSR. It is famous as the host for the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which at present, is the only route for astronauts/cosmonauts to travel to the International Space Station (ISS).

Kazakhstan has a long history of mining from Catherine the Great’s times through to the present. Kazakhstan remains one of the world’s major producers of natural resources and is one of the ten leading countries in the world for mineral reserves. It is the world’s leading uranium producer, and the third largest chrome producer. It is a large zinc producer and reports thirteen percent of world zinc reserves. Other important minerals include manganese, iron ore, copper, lead, gold, coal, bauxite, phosphate, titanium, and tungsten. Kazakhstan also has a rich endowment of petroleum products and is a leading oil and gas producer.

Miner’s Memorial in Karaganda

The government of Kazakhstan appreciate the importance of the mining industry to the country and when President Nazarbayev unveiled the 100 steps national plan there were key reforms for the mining industry, notably steps 74 and 75.

74. Transparency and predictability of subsoil use shall be maintained via introduction of the CRIRSCO reporting standards.

75. Simplified contracting procedures using the best international experience shall be introduced in the mining industry.

In mid-2016 the Kazakhstan Code for the Public Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves was approved by the CRIRSCO committee and so joins the family of international reporting codes under the CRIRSCO umbrella. This move is also expected to assist overseas investment in Kazakhstan by removing the requirement for “double” reporting for international requirements and internal State Ore Reserve Committee.

Currently the principal law “On Subsoil and Subsoil Use” regulates mining and the allocation of mining properties. A new mining code has been developed based on the Western Australian model, which aims to produce a simplified procedure for granting rights for investors and subsoil exploration. This legislation is expected to become effective in early 2018 and will particularly benefit smaller companies.

There are approximately 220 registered mining enterprises in the country. The larger domestic companies have been established by local entrepreneurs. Large foreign mining companies, some with local subsidiary companies, active in Kazakhstan include Glencore, Rio Tinto, Iluka Resources, Central Asia Metals Plc, Areva Sa, ArcelorMittal, Yildirim Group, Russian Copper Company and Rusal. There is a national operator of mineral assets in Tau-Ken Samruk, and geological exploration is carried out by the national exploration company is Kazgeology. Both Kazgeology and Tau-Ken Samruk work with foreign companies to explore, develop, and operate assets.

World Class Mines

The country regularly hosts major investor events. These include the Astana Mining and Metallurgy Congress, Mining World Central Asia and Minex Central Asia. There is good government support for attracting outside expertise and investment. In line with AMC’s core value of sharing knowledge and expertise, AMC is a regular supporter of many of these events, both in Kazakhstan and Russia. In fact, AMC’s presence at the MINEX Central Asia 2016 Conference was substantial and will present at Minex 2017.

Marnie Pascoe on-site in Kazakhstan

AMC has been working in Kazakhstan since 2004, during which time it has completed more than 90 consulting projects. The engagements spanned the full spectrum of AMC’s services, as illustrated in the chart below. AMC’s clients include some of the major Kazakhstani mining companies, such as Kazakhmys Corporation LLC, KAZ Minerals PLC, Kazzinc LLC, Syrymbet JSC, ShalkiyaZinc, JSC AK Altynalmas, along with some of the companies listed above.

AMC’s services in Kazakhstan by number of projects

Several large mineral projects have recently commenced production, are undergoing commissioning, or are the subject of feasibility study:

  • KAZ Minerals are copper-focused and have a number of producing mines. They recently brought the large Bozshakol mine into production, which will double their copper production. Aktogay is the next project under commissioning. AMC was responsible for the geology, geotechnical, and mining aspects of both of these projects.
  • Syrymbet is conducting feasibility studies on the Syrymbet tin deposit, which is the largest undeveloped tin deposit in the world. AMC carried out the geotechnical and mining components of the PFS for this project and is appointed for the same roles on the DFS.
  • Rio Tinto is in partnership with both Kazgeology and Tau-Ken Samruk to explore and develop copper-porphyry style deposits.
  • Iluka Resouces is in partnership with Kazgeology to explore for mineral sand deposits.

Kazakhstani mining companies are keen to embrace new approaches, and are ready to implement new equipment, technologies and services to increase production, cut costs and improve health, safety and environmental performance.

Marnie Pascoe