The second mining and exploration forum “MINEX Central Asia 2011″ was held on 5 – 7 April 2011 at the Radisson Conference Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Forum became the largest international mining event in Central Asia and brought together top managers from mining, exploration and metallurgical industries from Kazakhstan and Central Asia as well as international investors, financiers, consultants and state regulators.
The forum’s organising Committee is managed by the Kazakh-British Chamber of Commerce and the UK based “Advantix” Business Communications Agency.
This year the forum’s main objective was to provide multilateral discussion on post-crisis mining and mineral exploration developments in Kazakhstan and other countries of Central Asia. The forum also presented comprehensive views on the key technical, investment and financial measures required for improving mining efficiency and injecting international capital into mineral exploration in Central Asia.
Despite the absence of Prime Minister of Kazakhstan in the list of speakers, this year’s forum was even bigger than the first one held in 2010 and attracted record number of high profile participants including the head of the National Welfare Fund “Samruk-Kazyna” Kairat Kelimbetov; Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Asset Issekeshev; Deputy Secretary-General of EurAsEC Murat Musataev and chairman of the Eurasian Business Council Oleg Soskovets.
The forum was attended by over 450 executives and top managers from 200 companies and organisations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Britain, Germany, India, Canada, China, Mongolia, Oman, France, Finland, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea and Japan.
The exhibition held during the forum hosted 26 stands of local and international mining, engineering and consulting companies, which presented new technologies and innovative solutions for mineral exploration and mining.
More than 130 executives from local companies and government departments participated in the master classes organised prior to the forum by TOMS (Russia), SRK Consulting (UK-Kazakhstan-Russia), KPMG (Kazakhstan – Russia) and UNCTAD (Switzerland).
Over 60 papers were presented at the forum on key aspects of development of mineral potential in Kazakhstan and Central Asia.
Opening the forum, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, President of the International Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Jan Lewis noted that Kazakhstan set an example of how resource-rich country can flourish if properly managed. ”Kazakhstan has adopted new laws on environmental protection and uses the best business strategies” – he said.
Business support program “Productivity-2020” will be launched on 15 April 2011, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev has informed forum’s participants. “The program provides for a new package of mechanisms aimed at maintaining business, namely – innovation grants, compensation for expenses caused by attraction of highly-qualified foreign engineers and technical experts, for purchase of licenses, preparation of technical documentation, technologies and industrial equipment long-term leasing “, said Mr Issekeshev. According to him, on the whole, the Government is ready to provide about 100 tools of business support. In the next five years the country must concentrate on development of processing capacities for base metals. The focus will be on increasing gross value added products, attracting investment and new technologies, improving productivity and implementing energy efficiency, and environmental compliance in the exploration, extraction, processing,- added Mr Issekeshev.
In conclusion, he reported that by 2014 Kazakhstan plans to increase gold output to 70 tons per year – a 2,3 times increase compared to 2010. According to Mr Issekeshev, Kazakhstan’s gold, iron ore and manganese mining sectors will experience influx of foreign investment in the form of construction of new processing plants, exploration of new fields and implementation of new value adding technologies.
Speaking to the journalists at the “MINEX Central Asia-2011” the head of SWF “Samruk-Kazyna” Kairat Kelimbetov emphasised that forum is designed to stimulate foreign investors’ interest in the Kazakhstan’s mineral sector, – “This is an opportunity to talk about the prospects and challenges facing the mining and metallurgical industries which currently represent 20 percent of the national GDP” – he said. - “According to fund’s forecasts, by 2020, investments in mining and metallurgical complex in Kazakhstan will grow up to 40%” , he added. As an example of international cooperation with foreign investors, Mr Kelmbetov spoke about 5 billion USD investment program between Kazakhstan and China Development Bank and also announced imminent creation of a joint exploration company to be managed by the National Mining Company “Tau-Ken Samruk” and Rio Tinto. New investors, according to Mr Kelimbetov, will help Kazakhstan to improve production efficiency and reduce times of mineral exploration, as well as will develop new capacities for production and export of value added products.
Due to record-high metals prices and the development of the Customs Union and Common Economic Area, Kazakhstan is becoming an increasingly appealing country for foreign investors and international mining companies, continued Mr Kelimbetov. In the future, Kazakhstan could also become a regional business hub for securing investment for the mining sector of the whole Central Asian region.
A new mineral exploration company will be created in Kazakhstan, according to Bolal Svyatov, Chairman of the National Mining Company “Tau-Ken Samruk” who presented at the forum’s investment panel. B. Svyatov explained that “Tau-Ken Samruk” planed to cooperate with major Kazakh mining companies who were experiencing shortage of mineral resources. The first project will be implemented in conjunction with Kazakhmys Corporation.
A number of gold, silver, uranium, rare earth metals, copper, zinc, coal and iron ore long-term development projects in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were brought to the attention of foreign investors at the forum’s “Unlocking mineral potential” session.
Following the session, Kazatomprom’s deputy chairman Nurlan Ryspanov and the president of UK’s “Purolite International AG” Stefan Brodie signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in technologies and innovations. The partnership will cover many aspects of Kazatomprom’ activities, including technological research and tests in the area of hydrometallurgy of rare and precious metals, development and testing of new sorbents for the use in hydrometallurgy, industrial water treatment and conditioning.
Concluding the forum’s “Mining Leaders” session Mr Kevin Fox, Managing Director of Exploration in Europe, Asia and Africa of Rio Tinto told the participants about company’s strategic plans in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. “Potentially Kazakhstan has “world” class mineral deposits combined with highly skilled and educated workforce. Deep-lying copper ore bodies will require the use of innovative technology and large capital expenditures” – said Mr Fox. To enhance mineral exploration and attract foreign investment Mr Fox urged the country’s government to improve regulatory frameworks and reduce investment risks.
Experts from KPMG, SRK Consulting, Wardell Armstrong International, American Appraisal, London Stock Exchange, Ernst & Young, The World Bank, Citic Capital, Ogier, and Moody’s Eastern Europe provided broad analysis of changes in the fiscal policies in mineral extraction and presented modern approaches to the financing of mining projects at various development stages.
Other mining companies who presented at the forum include the National Mining Company “Tau-Ken Samruk”, ARMZ Uranium Holding, “Uranium One”, Sary Kazna (Central Asia Metals plc), Spectral Capital Corporation, RJC Exploration and MBC Corporation.
The forum’ technical sessions offered exchange of best mining practices and technologies presented by experts of the “Association of industrial geological organizations of Kazakhstan”, “The General Directorate of Geology under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan”, the “Kyrgyz Mining Association”, The “Republican Association of Mining and Metallurgical Enterprises” of Kazakhstan, “Irgiredmet”, “SRK Consulting”, “International Finance Corporation (IFC)”, “Stewart Group”, “IMC Montan”, “Kazzinc”, “ENRC”, “ERM Eurasia”, “Micromine”, “Project managers Union of Kazakhstan”, “GSK-Shaftproject”, “VIST Group”, “VNIPI Industrial Technologies” and “Cognis Australia”.
In the final session of the forum Chairman of “Samruk-Kazyna” Kairat Kelimbetov (who was appointed on 12 April 2011 the new Minister of Trade and Economy of Kazakhstan”) invited participants to send to the Organizing Committee recommendations which they believe would help to stimulate the development of mineral exploration in Kazakhstan. Mr Kelimbetov also offered to create the forum’s permanent Secretariat which will set out to establish the “Central Asian Mining Club” and stimulate the dialogue between the national mining company “Tau-Ken Samruk” and potential international investors.
Materials published in Kazakh and international press and speakers’ presentations were used in this article.
The detailed version of the “MINEX Central Asia 2011” digest is posted on the site www.minexasia.com.