Kazakhstan allocates $950 million to exploration program

Kazakhstan has allocated nearly a billion dollars for a new geological exploration program in the country.

KazakhstanThe country's government has approved close to USD $885 million for the implementation of the new program, according to its vice minister of new technologies Nuralan Surabayev.

The program will focus on the search for new deposits in the country.

It is part of the country's wider shift to encourage its mining industry.

Earlier this year Kazakhstan announced a change to its existing mining codes to encourage international investment.

Its prime minister, Serik Akhmetov, told the country's Ministry of Industry and New Technologies to have the concept for a new Mining Code ready by July 1 to increase the country attractiveness to explorers.

Despite increased mining interest in Russia and the CIS nations, Kazakhstan has lagged behind other nations in terms of discoveries, with Akhmetov stating that the nation had not had any significant discoveries in more than two decades, with the last large-scale exploration programs carried out in the 1950s.

In its bid to attract these investors it is focusing on removing many of the bureaucratic procedures and roadblocks to geological information that currently exist.

Kazakhstan is also considering tax incentives for foreign investors.

Aset Isekeshev, Kazakhstan's minister of industry and new technologies, said Rio Tinto is already looking to spend more than $13 million on exploration, whilst the government is looking to spend around USD$ 1 billion to fund increased exploration.

It is also developing a model based on Australian practices to attract increased exploration.

Following its success in Russia, Austmine is also looking to Kazakhstan, with its CEO Robert Trzebski outlining a new mission with eight to ten Australian METS companies within the coming months.

"This'll be our sixth visit to Kazakhstan," he told Australian Mining.

With Gekko's BDM Sandy Grey adding that is already looking towards the country.

Trzebski explained that "while the currency devaluation has some questioning the country's stability, the truth is there are still massive opportunities, particularly in base metals and maybe even uranium."

He went on to add that state of coal, however, is a different one, as the commodity is battered by poor prices globally.

"Kazakhstan has always offered great opportunities, and has always been ahead in the region in terms of adopting technology and implementing new technology."

This sentiment was echoed by Palaris' Joe Carr, who stated "Kazakhstan is modernising".

He went onto say that the country may have even more potential if it effectively implements and follows through on its laws relating to approvals processes and foreign investment.

Gekko's business development manager added "Kazakhstan has been large in mining for some time, and it is the natural next target for a lot of foreign companies operating in Russia".

Kazakhstan is currently the world's largest uranium producer, and fourth largest copper producer.

Source: Australian Mining magazine

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