Business & Economy

EU ready to support, benefit from rare metal extraction in Kazakhstan

Astana, Jul 4 (EFE).- The European Union is poised to support and benefit from the extraction of rare earth metals in Kazakhstan as part of its effort to diversify supply sources and reduce reliance on China, the EU ambassador to the Central Asian republic said Tuesday.

“A 90% dependence on one source of raw materials is a significant dependency. It’s more convenient for us, as raw material consumers, to have a choice of at least three to five sources,” Kestutis Jankauskas told media on the sidelines of a trade partnership forum between Kazakhstan and the EU in the field of essential raw materials.

Therefore, he added, “The EU hopes that Kazakhstan and Central Asian countries, in general, could become an alternative.”

According to official data, Kazakhstan ranks sixth globally in terms of natural resources and tenth in total mineral production.

The country leads the world in tungsten reserves and comes second in uranium and chromium. It ranks fourth and fifth in manganese, silver, zinc, and lead. The republic also has deposits of rare earth metals like rubidium, cesium, lithium, and beryllium.

Jankauskas said the development of rare earth metals in Central Asia’s largest economy, whose resources are rich but still insufficiently explored, will help Europe find a reliable alternative to China.

Kazakhstan’s Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development, Marat Karabayev, underscored at the forum that of the 30 critical types of rare earth metals, the country is producing 16, and with the application of investments and advanced technologies, the list of metals could increase by another nine.

“Today’s forum is the next step to expand our cooperation with EU countries in this area,” Karabayev said, adding that over 50 company representatives and more than a dozen European country ambassadors were participating in the conference.

Karabayev mentioned that he plans to travel with representatives from up to 150 Kazakh companies to Brussels in November for Rare Earth Metals Week and foresees visits to China, South Korea, and Japan.

“Our choice in future contracts depends on which company offers the best deals for Kazakhstan,” he stressed.

According to Jankauskas, European investors intend to enter this field using a comprehensive approach.

It’s not just about supplying advanced technologies in the study of the subsoil and subsequent extraction of rare earth metals, but also about the so-called “green” technologies ensuring compliance with environmental standards and requirements, he emphasized.

Furthermore, the EU commits to helping Kazakhstan develop skilled personnel, he said.

The EU also intends to contribute to improving and speeding up all processes for the transport of extracted raw materials along the Trans-Caspian corridor, Jankauskas noted.

He explained that this involves the digitization of many processes for passing through customs and eliminating bottlenecks on this route, which will increase its competitiveness against the Northern route passing through Russian territory. EFE


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