Kazakhstan has over 90 kinds of natural resources, thanks to a very favorable geographical position of the country that translates into a very diverse geological composition, offering geological materials with a long period of formation, from the ancient Archaean deposits to recent quaternary deposits.
The geologically diverse land offers the following pattern of primary resource nodes:
Northern Kazakhstan serves as the primary resource supplier for the aluminum and gold production, as well as the primary iron ore region of the country. This region boasts large reserves of nickel-cobalt, stannum-tantalic and titan-zirconium ores, development of which is planned for the coming years; northern Kazakhstan also has the CIS’s largest deposit of chrysotile-asbestos, development of which has been underway since the middle 20th century. Awaiting development is the unique deposit of industrial diamonds. Development of the uniquely zinc-rich «Shaimerden» field has started
Resource portfolio here contains high-quality magnetite ores and large deposits of brown ore, amounting to billions of tons in reserve.
Eastern Kazakhstan is the main region for the polymetallic ore mining. High efficiency in developing polymetallic fields of the ore basin of Altai is achieved through complex use of ores, extraction of lead, zinc, copper, gold, platinoids and rare elements. Eastern Kazakhstan contains over 40% of all the gold in place. Over the last years, large titanium ore deposits have been discovered and are now in development.
Central Kazakhstan is the primary copper and manganese supplier of the Republic. This region holds the nation’s principal coal basins, as well as significant reserves of tungsten-molibdenium and lead-zinc ores, and major deposits of high-quality coking and energy coal.
Southern Kazakhstan contains a unique uranium mining infrastructure that involves high-tech underground leeching, and also provides phosphate materials.
Western Kazakhstan offers a large supply of oil and natural gas resources, potassium and boron salts, as well as high-quality chromites.
The heart of the national iron ore infrastructure lies in the megnetite and sedimentary deposits of the brown iron ores of the northern Kazakhstan, amounting to billions of tons of total volume.
Manganese ore is amply provided by the complex iron-manganese fields of the central Kazakhstan. Manganese concentrates are domestically utilized by a ferroalloy plant in the town of Aksu in northern Kazakhstan. Primary ore mining enterprises are Zhairemskiy GOK JSC and the Kazchrome Transnational Company. Significant potential is contained within the complex iron-manganese deposit of «western Karazhal», amounting to over 50% of the national in-place reserves.
The core of the lead-zinc mining industry consists in the pyrite-polymetallic deposits of the ore basin of Altai, developed by the Kazzinc JSC. High efficiency of developing polymetallic deposits is achieved through complex use of ores, involving extraction of lead, zinc, copper, gold, platinoids and rare elements. Period of reserve availability of the developed fields is no greater than 25 years. Almost all of the lead-zinc production of Kazakhstan is exported. It is in high demand in the US, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada.
Among the prospects of developing the small and medium businesses is their involvement in developing major deposits: Chekmar, Novoleninogorsky in the east, zhairem, Bestube in the central Kazakhstan, Shalkiya and Talap in the south, where over 40% of the national polymetallic reserves are. Over the past few years, Shalkiya and Talap mineral reserves were re-assessed, which led to an increase in the ore components in the mined ore without significant decrease of the reserves; Shakliya development has been launched. Development has started in the rich Shaimerden field in the northern Kazakhstan, containing large amounts of zinc ore.
In order to reinforce the mineral infrastructure, the primary zinc-lead mining company, in a joint agreement with the Committee for Geology and Subsoil Use, active measures are taken to organize and conduct large-scale exploration at a high methodological standard in the northern and eastern regions of Kazakhstan. The Solovyov block has been developed. A field has been alloted for continuation of copper-porphyry mineralization.
Kazakhmys Corporation conducts copper ore mining and copper production at the deposits of central and eastern Kazakhstan. Copper reserves of the long-developed fields (Zhezkazganskoye, Orlovskoye, Nikolayevskoye) are gradually depleting. At the same time, the nation is fully prepared to maintain sufficient production rates and further development of the mineral portfolio of the copper ore industry. For replacement of the development capacity of the eastern region, the following fields are being developed: Artemyevskoye, Abyz, Kosmuroui, Akbastau, Nurkazgan copper-porphyry field with high-quality ores in the central region, Shatyrkol deposit in the south, and one of Kazakhstan’s largest cupriferous sandstone deposits, Zhaman-Aibat in the Zhezkazgan ore mining district. Significant nationwide potential is contained within the largest copper-porphyry deposits of Aktogai, Aidardy, Koksai and Bozshakolskoye. Development of these deposits is contingent upon, first of all, finding the technological solutions that would allow an economically feasible development of low-grade ores. Kazakhmys Corporation’s supply of production-ready copper reserves can sustain for 30–35 years, and the entire resource portfolio of the corporation can amount to over 50 years of production.
Favorable conditions for the copper-zinc development are created in the western Kazakhstan, where a new ore mining production complex is expected to be constructed on the basis of the discovered copper-pyrite deposits (50 let oktyabrya, Kundyzdy, Priorskoye, etc.). Development of the «50 let oktyabrya» field has been launched. Exploratory efforts are made to find new copper fields, primarily in the central Kazakhstan — in the Zhezkazgan and Maikayinsk ore mining districts, as well as the northern Balkhash basin. Also in the vicinity of the Nurkazgan field.
Gold ore and gold-containing fields are localized in the 16 ore mining districts, of which the major ones are: Kalbin and Altai in the east (fields Bakyrchik, Bolshevik, Ridder-Sokolnoye etc.); Kokshetau and Zholymbet-Bestoby in the north (Vasilevskoye, Zholymbet, etc.); Shu-Ili and Dzhungar in the south (Akbakai, Beskempir, Arkhardy etc.); Maikayin and northern Balkhash in the central region (Maikayin, Boshkul, Sayak, etc.); Zhetygarin and Mugodzhar in the west (Komarovskoye, Varvarinskoye, Yubileynoye, etc.).
Gold-mining industry of the country is overall well-supplied by the confirmed reserves of the gold-containing ores, taking into account the achieved performance of the mining companies for the period (applicable to largest companies) of 50 years. The core of Kazakhstan’s gold reserves lies in the in-place reserves of the gold ore deposits. Their large-scape industrial development, provided that the necessary technological solutions are applied, will lead to a large increase in the gold mining and production in Kazakhstan. Gold mining is conducted by over 30 companies nationwide. Over 80% of the in-place gold reserves of the nation is being developed. Half of the gold mined in Kazakhstan is provided by the pyrite-polymetallica deposits, in which gold is extracted as an associated component. The most progressive method of mining is heap leaching, which allows to involve both large and small low-grade ore fields.