Mining opportunities across Eastern Europe and Central Asia Network (EECAN)
The EECAN region covering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan is richly endowed with natural resources that represent significant opportunities for UK mining and supply chain companies. Opportunities exist around such areas as innovative equipment, cutting edge technologies for geological exploration, mineral processing, health and safety, low carbon solutions, etc. Already active in the region are Rio Tinto, Central Asia Metals, SRK Consulting, Wardell Armstrong, Weir Minerals, FLSmidth, Tensar, MMD Sizers and many others.
Afghanistan possesses a wealth of mineral resources including base and ferrous metals, precious metals, precious and semi-precious stones, hydrocarbons, as well as substantial construction and other industrial mineral resources, and well over 1,400 mineral deposits and/or occurrences have been documented by the Afghanistan Geological Survey. Recent investigations, e.g. by the USGS, have clearly demonstrated the country’s vast potential for a wide range of metallic mineral deposits and energy commodities (e.g. gold, copper, iron, lithium, coal, oil & gas) as well as industrial minerals (e.g. granite, limestone, marble, clay) that are much needed for the domestic market and infrastructure development. While industrial-scale mining is yet to take off, Afghanistan is a major producer of high-quality coal, gemstones, marble, talc, fluorite, chromite and other industrial minerals and construction materials.
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world and possesses vast untapped riches of natural resources like oil, gas, copper, zinc, uranium, and other metals. The country has the largest proven zinc deposits, 9th largest proven gold reserves, 4th largest copper producer, possesses over 30% of world chrome reserves, 25% of manganese, and 10% of iron ore. The mining and metals sector accounts for around 19% of the country’s GDP. About 80% of all mining industry products are exported to over thirty countries worldwide, representing 20% of overall exports and 30% of the country’s annual revenue. To breakdown production: 60% – non-ferrous metals, 20% – ferrous metals, 17% coal, about 3% – others.
In Kyrgyzstan, mining is a major contributor to the Kyrgyz economy and is largely focused on gold and coal. The state balance of mineral resources lists about 200 deposits with fully explored or actively explored reserves of mineral raw materials. The country’s mining sector has been led by the country’s most significant project, the Kumtor gold mine, which is managed by a subsidiary of Centerra Gold. Aside from Kumtor mine, there are 10-12 medium and large-scale gold mines operating in the country. Chaarat is developing two gold projects.
In Uzbekistan, the mining sector is one of the most important and strategic industries, with the country being among the leading producers of gold and uranium in the world (e.g. according to World Nuclear Association, Uzbekistan is the world’s seventh-ranking uranium supplier). Uzbekistan also produces copper, silver, coal, phosphate, molybdenum, wolfram, potassium, tungsten, lead, zinc and other minerals. The Uzbek government wants to see the mining sector make a more fulsome contribution to the economy and public finances and has identified it as a priority area of focus for reform efforts.
Russia is one of the most mineral rich countries on earth. It has approximately 17% of the world’s coal reserves, with roughly 157 billion tonnes, and is the fifth country in the world in coal output (after China, USA, India and Australia). According to the Federal Agency, the volume of gold reserves in the Russian Federation exceeds 13.1 thousand tons (14% of the world’s proven reserves), which places Russia in the top three countries in the world. Russia ranks first in the world in nickel production and boasts the world’s largest known reserves. Russia is one of the top 3 producers of platinum, gold, diamonds, and iron ore, second largest producer of aluminium and fourth largest steel producer.
In Mongolia, the mining sector represents around 86% of exports and 24% of GDP, boosted by an incredible amount of minerals with an estimated value of $1.3 trillion. Main exports include coal briquettes, copper ore, gold, crude petroleum and iron ore. Mongolia is estimated to hold over 6,000 mineral deposits potentially worth over USD$2 trillion, but only 25% of the country has been geologically surveyed. Mongolia’s major mineral exports include copper, molybdenum, gold, coal, and fluorspar concentrates. For gold, copper and coal deposits Mongolia ranks in the Top 10 in the world.
In Ukraine, the mining industry accounts for almost 10% of the country’s GDP. The export of minerals and metals constitutes 39.6% of the total exports. Ukraine is the world leader in reserves of manganese ores (42.8%), titanium (20%), iron ore (15%), and coal (7.5%). It has significant reserves of titanium-zirconium ores, graphite, kaolin, potassium salts, sulphur, refractory clay, granite, facing stone. The mining industry is the largest taxpayer in Ukraine.
Turkey has diverse mineral deposits due its complex geology. A major producer of industrial minerals, primary metallic minerals and lignite, Turkey ranks 10th in global mineral diversity. It is particularly rich in boron and natural stone reserves and has serious lignite and gold production. UK companies have an excellent reputation amongst Turkish mining industry and are trusted suppliers of electrical and safety equipment to coal mines.
Given the importance and continued development of the sector in the EECAN, the Department for International Trade has organised a series of webinars for the mining companies in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Leading UK firms will talk about cutting-edge solutions for the industry such as:
- Environmental and social aspects in mining, including mine closure;
- Virtual site tours of remote assets;
- Integrated and remote operations and minimal site resourcing, especially during the Covid-19 crisis;
- Innovative technologies and equipment for geological exploration;
- Satellite applications for tailing management.