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Kazakhstan’s rich mineral resources: A catalyst for global technology and economic growth

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Kazakhstan stands out as a vital player in the global landscape of critical raw materials due to its rich deposits of essential elements such as titanium, beryllium, tantalum and niobium. These materials are crucial for the production of electronics, aerospace components, and batteries, underscoring their strategic importance in today’s technologically driven economy. The nation aims to enhance its role by attracting significant investment, creating value-added solutions within its borders, and fostering collaborations with international partners, especially the European Union (EU).

Key contributions and potential

Kazakhstan already produces 18 out of 34 essential elements critical for the EU economy, with considerable untapped potential for nine additional rare earth elements. The World Bank estimates the country hosts over 5,000 undiscovered mineral deposits, with a combined value exceeding $46 trillion, highlighting the immense economic opportunity awaiting development .

Investment and collaboration with the EU

Investment in Kazakhstan’s raw materials sector is paramount to unlocking its full potential. Despite its substantial natural reserves, developing these resources requires significant capital investment in exploration, extraction, and processing . The EU, as Kazakhstan’s largest trade partner and foreign investor, has played a pivotal role in this regard. In 2023, EU investments in Kazakhstan amounted to $7.8 billion, targeting sectors including critical raw materials.

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The 2022 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kazakhstan and the EU underscores the importance of sustainable raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen value chains. Following its implementation in 2023, European entities have significantly increased their exploration activities in Kazakhstan. For instance, Germany and Kazakhstan have inked agreements worth $1.7 billion, with notable commitments from German company HMS Bergbau for lithium exploration.

Enhancing infrastructure and supply chains

Infrastructure development is crucial for Kazakhstan’s aspirations. The European Investment Bank (EIB) collaborates with Central Asian countries to co-finance transport projects like the Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor under the Global Gateway initiative. These projects are essential for facilitating the transport of raw materials to Europe . Additionally, Kazakhstan’s new investment office in Brussels aims to attract further EU investments and enhance the bilateral economic relationship.

Value-added processes and sustainable development

Kazakhstan is keen on advancing beyond merely exporting raw materials. The country aims to integrate value-added processes within its borders, thus creating more economic value and fostering technological advancements domestically . Minister of Science and Higher Education Sayasat Nurbek emphasized the importance of localizing parts of the value chain to create solutions and drive sustainable development .

Strengthening global supply chains

Kazakhstan’s approach is characterized by a focus on strengthening global supply chains through sustainable extraction and processing, joint scientific research, and skills development. This strategy aligns with the green transition and aims to enhance the resilience of supply chains amid growing global demand for critical minerals.

Relationship with China

Kazakhstan maintains a friendly and cooperative relationship with China, focusing on complementing rather than competing in the global supply chain of critical minerals. The nation’s strategic approach is to position itself as a reliable supplier, thereby contributing to global supply chain resilience without directly challenging China’s dominant position.

Conclusion

Kazakhstan’s mineral wealth presents a significant opportunity for both the country and its international partners, particularly the EU. With the right investments and strategic partnerships, Kazakhstan is poised to play a crucial role in meeting the growing global demand for critical raw materials, driving sustainable economic growth, and enhancing the technological capacities of industries worldwide.

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