Kazakhstan Faces Critical Depletion of its Minerals

• Category: Kazakhstan
(Tengrinews) – Kazakhstan has proven reserves of copper and poly-metals for another 10-15 years, Tengrinews.kz reports citing Kazakhstan Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev as saying at the government meeting.
Standing photo of Asset Issekeshev

Asset Issekeshev

“Our situation is worst with copper and poly-metals: the proven reserves of non-ferrous metals will support the industry only for another 10-15 years,” Minister said. According to Issekeshev, the fields discovered by Soviet geologists have been developed too intensely in the last decades, while geological exploration has not yet covered all the promising areas. “We are facing inability to restock the depleted reserves and the tendency is worsening. We are experiencing general decrease in volume and deterioration of quality of the mineral reserves,” he stated.

According to the Minister, depletion of reserves of many of main minerals greatly exceeds the speed of their growth after exploration. Reserves increase in case of some metals (iron, manganese, gold, zinc) due mainly through re-evaluation and additional exploration of the already discovered fields. However, the existing registered reserves of recently discovered copper and gold fields have low quality and cannot be considered equivalent to the depleted reserves.

Issekeshev gave the statistics of the decrease of the proven reserves of main metals. Since the year 2000, copper reserves went down by 2.4 million tons (5.8%); zinc and lead reserved decreased by 7.2 million tons (19.8%) and 1.1 million tons (6.5%) correspondingly; bauxite reserves went down by 54.5 million tons (15%).

“These numbers include the increase after geological exploration works. Thus, it becomes obvious the necessity to take urgent measures for replenishment of the depleted reserves to avoid critical exhaustion of base minerals which are the foundation for development of our economy in general,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the proven reserves of many types of minerals that constitute the mineral base of Kazakhstan also constitute significant amounts in the global scale. Kazakhstan has 18% of the global reserves of uranium, 10% of chrome reserves, 9% of world’s lead, 8% of zinc, 5% of silver, 5% of manganese and 5% of world’s copper reserves.

“But Kazakhstan is lagging behind the major global producers by the quality of its ores. A large part of the reserves has a low quality. As a result only 35% of proven reserves are exploited today and the fields of 10 types of minerals (diamonds, stannum, tungsten, tantalum, niobium, nickel, boron, magnesite, magnesium and potassium salts) have not been developed yet. I have to say that over 80% of proven reserves have been transferred to the subsoil users and up to 90-98% of hydrocarbons, gold, copper, poly-metals, chrome, manganese and nickel are explored by the subsoil users. The backup is made of the fields with small reserves or complicated ores (e.g. brown iron ores of Ayat field),” Issekeshev said.