Kazakhstan invites investors from Europe to take part in rare metal mining

Special correspondent of the "News" department
European companies have been invited to produce rare metals in Kazakhstan / Photo: Shutterstock

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Infrastructural Development Ilyas Ospanov, European companies should come to Kazakhstan, grab a shovel and start digging for those critical materials they need for the production of dual-use products.

«All that has happened recently made one country more attractive for the EU. We can feel that. We can see some real actions now, and I am very glad that we have finally gotten down to business. I always say that Kazakhstan is no longer at the stage of analysis and deep smart solutions. We are at a stage when all you need is just to take a shovel and start digging,» he said during a summit on the business partnership between the EU and Kazakhstan.

As the official noted, European companies already discussed cooperation with Kazakhstan in the sphere of critical materials in the past. However, those discussions never led to real actions. Now, when the EU is dependent on China, which supplies about 90% of these materials, Europe wants to boost cooperation with Kazakhstan. The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 caused an exchange with sanctions between the EU and Russia, while conflict between China and the U.S. affected economic relations between the two giants.

Europe relies heavily on railways when it comes to the import of rare metals from China. The vast majority of those railways go through Russian territory. European companies need these critical materials to produce electric cars, green products and other supplies like shells, tanks and combat aircraft. This is why the EU worries that China can restrict the supply of such material to Europe.

In this regard, Kazakhstan is one of several alternative sources of critical materials for Europe, which has already negotiated with other countries rich in rare metals.

According to Turar Zholmagambetov, deputy chairman of the Industrial Development Committee under the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development, Kazakhstani companies can provide their European counterparts with services on tolling terms. In addition, businesses in Kazakhstan can cooperate with European companies in the production of primary metals. The third way European companies can work in Kazakhstan is to cooperate with local companies with licenses for the production of rare metals. Together they can produce primary metals businesses in Europe need.

«We are going to promote ourselves as suppliers of primary metals as a minimum and producers of ready-to-use products as a maximum. We are striving to be part of the global added value chain in this field. There are many manufacturing sites in Europe that produce high-tech products like rotary engines and lithium-ion batteries, so some elements of these products may be produced in Kazakhstan,» Zholmagambetov said.

According to Ospanov, even though Kazakhstan received offers from different countries, the EU has done more than others in terms of negotiations with Kazakhstan about cooperation in the field of critical materials. In addition, Kazakhstan shares the same values as the EU when it comes to the protection of the environment.

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