Big discoveries are ahead

March 14. Kazpravda


Big discoveries are aheadKazakhstan conducts research of subsurface not only on the presence of oil and gas, but also of other types of raw materials, such as base metals, which are applied in high technologies, said chairman of the Committee on geology and subsoil use Bazarbay Nurabayev.

As known, Kazakhstan is a major exporter of hydrocarbons, ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals. In particular, RK accounts for over 40 % of extracted uranium in the world and 16 % of chromium. The mineral resource complex has strategic importance for the country, as it provides a large part of foreign currency earnings, and its share in GDP is 70%.

The republic creating a strong economy plans through its subsoil to attract new investments and new technologies and knowledge in the country. That is why the President set the task to revive and raise to a new level such industry as exploration. Chief geologist of the country Bazarbay Nurabayev believes that new discoveries are ahead at proper funding and political will.

From silence to revival

Recall that after the collapse of the USSR, exploration was funded from the budget and the allocated sums left much to be desired. As a result, the volume of exploration works sharply decreased and as a consequence, there was an outflow of qualified personnel from the industry.

Later (1995-2002) prospecting and exploration works were carried out mainly at the expense of investors. As a result, there was an imbalance between the exhausted and augment reserves.

This mistake was taken into account in the Program of the development of resource mineral complex of the country for 2003-2010. Then a new program for 2010-2014 was adopted. It was developed with a view to industrialization and therefore put more ambitious goals to the industry and transferred the geological research to the category of state issues.

According to the committee, the financial costs for implementing this program are provided in the national budget in the amount of 50 billion tenge.

– Over the past four years, exploration expenses increased 3.5 -fold from 5 to 18 billion tenge – said Nurabayev.

This brought positive results. Thus, as of today, according to the state reserves committee, there are 5536 deposits of all kinds of minerals on the balance and in the inventory of the republic. For example, gold reserves increased by 0.8 thousand tons, copper – 5.4 million tons, lead – 990 thousand, zinc – 2.8 million ton, uranium – 161 thousand, manganese ore – 94 million, oil – 2 billion ton, gas – 145 billion cubic meters.

Not just oil …

However, according to the chairman of the committee, the degree of exploration of our subsoil is a relative concept.

– We need not only to continue but also to repeat geological work on the already explored territories. Exploration results of the last century are outdated. Today we have new exploration technologies, methods, equipment, – said Nurabayev.

According to him, in recent years, new deposits were identified on the previously studied areas.

– Now there is an opinion that the territory of Kazakhstan has been fully explored in the shallow depth and now it’s time of deep exploration. But our experts disagree with this. Using new technologies we can find ore in the area where it had not been found before, – says the chief geologist.

For Kazakhstan it is important to conduct research not only on the presence of oil and gas, but also other raw materials, such as metals used in high technologies. Exploration works in the country traditionally focus on finding of non-ferrous metals and gold. Intensive work is carried out to find new oil and gas fields, taking into account their priorities and market conjuncture.

– But, in our view, today we should carry out research on other types of minerals, such as rare and trace metals that are used in the sphere of high-technologies. They are also in high demand in the market today – said Nurabayev.

Relying on not only transnational companies

According to the head of the Committee, the state will create conditions not only for transnational, but also for so-called junior or small companies. This approach will ensure full coverage of search of large, small or old deposits which already stepped their productive period.

– The emphasis will be on creating favorable conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses in geology. In the countries with a developed system of geological services along with large national or multinational vertically integrated companies, there are many small (junior) companies, which almost completely cover services for exploratory work – Nurabayev noted.

According to the agency, today the market of exploration services in Kazakhstan is narrow. Depending on the strategy of the company, they can evolve, developing production, processing, etc., or remain in the niche of search services.

– Under appropriate conditions, the number of companies will grow and in the process of competition they will go to the world market, CIS and other countries (Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Caucasus). At the same time foreign mining and service companies will come to Kazakhstan for the services, – added the chief geologist.

Today Kazakhstan plans to improve the industry in accordance with the best international standards, first of all the sectoral legislation. It will be simple and transparent and the number of constraints will reduce.

– In addition, as known, modern exploration involves the use of remote sensing (RS), as well as the latest aero – geophysical services, and we ‘re going to use them in Kazakhstan. This problem will be resolved through the transfer of new technologies from international companies, such as RioTinto, ILUCA, KORES, – said Nurabayev.

In parallel, the work will be done to establish domestic scientific and educational base to prepare the younger generation of geologists. He recalled that the question is the establishment of geological research center under the Nazarbayev University.