Kazakhstan plans to increase position in rare earth global market
Kazakhstan plans to increase its share in the global market of rare earth elements (REE) during the next several years, which is expected to take place through the more active development of local REE fields with the participation of foreign investors.
Amid the low global prices for copper, gold, aluminum, zinc and other metals, the development of local REE fields could be one of the attractive options for the Kazakh government, which is also due to relatively stable prices for rare earths in the global market.
Due to this, the Kazakh government plans to accelerate implementation of projects in the REE sector during the next several years.
For example, one of the first projects in this field may be launched already in the near future, in accordance with a recent agreement, signed between JSC Kazgeologiya, Kazakhstan’s state-owned national exploration company, and the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on the conduction of geological exploration of the Kazakh REE fields, which is scheduled for the spring of 2016.
It is planned that at the initial stage the partners will focus on the development of REE fields, which are located in the area of Kyzemshek of the Karaganda region of Kazakshstan and the Zhanaarkalyk area of the Kostanai region of the country. Both fields are characterized by high yttrium content.
At the same time the project involves the development of the Kundybayskoe REE field in the Kostanai region, as well as Karazhy- ra coal-mine field in East Kazakhstan.
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During the second stage the partners will consider the establishment of processing capacities in Kazakhstan.
In the meantime, it is planned that JOGMEC will not be a single foreign company, that will participate in the projects for the development of REE fields in Kazakhstan during the next several years.
Several months ago Kazatomprom, the Kazakh state-owned nuclear holding company, signed an agreement on strategic partnership with the French Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), as well as the European company of monitoring and strategic consulting» (CEIS), for the conduction of geological exploration of the country’s REE fields. Under the terms of the agreement, the partners have reached an agreement to design a new technology of REE extraction, that will be used in the production of rare earths in the country in the near future, while its details are not disclosed.
Finally, as part of the plans of the Kazakh government is the resume of rare earth production at the capacities of the Irtysh Chemical-Metallurgical Plant, which range was comprised of more than 40 metals during the Soviet times. In addition, there are also plans for the launch of REE production at the capacities of Kazzinc enterprise in the Ust-Kamenogorsk region of the country.
It is planned that implementation of these plans will take place as part of the existing state program for the development of REE fields, which has been recently approved by the Kazakh government.
The program is known as On the development and production of rare and rare earth metals in Kazakhstan for the period of 2015-2019, involves a significant increase of production and development of the country’s of rare earth fields during the next four years.
In the meantime, the Kazakh government has already promised investors all the needed support in their projects, as well as to tighthen a fight with illegal sales of rare earths in the country, which have significantly increased in recent years.
The program also involves the establishment of a special state reserve of rare earths in the country.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>