What Are Kazakhstan's Natural Resources?

Published January 12th, 2022 - 06:00 GMT
Kazakhstan's Natural Resources
Kazakhstan's crisis was triggered by a govt decision to increase fuel price caps. (Shutterstock: Dancing_Man)
When it comes to Kazakhstan's natural resources, the country is quite rich.

For the past week, Kazakhstan's news has taken the world by surprise as the Central Asian country is often regarded as peaceful and calm. The country has experienced one of its most violent anti-government demonstrations, getting everyone curious about the reason thousands of Kazakhs took to the streets, and whether Kazakhstan's natural resources will impact the crisis or not.

While the issue has a deep political root, we are here to discuss its financial angle, shedding light on Kazakhstan's natural resources and whether the country's economy is in an inevitable crisis. 

Kazakhstan's Natural Resources
Almaty, Kazakhstan - Jan 4, 2022 -  ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV/ AFP

It was the 4th of January 2022, when thousands of Kazakhs took to the streets in the country's largest city, Almaty, in the wake of a government decision to increase fuel price caps. Kazakhs first reaction was a demand for government change and economic reforms to help the country's 18.8 million population

According to pre-pandemic figures, about 4.3% of Kazakhstan's population lives below the national poverty line. In 2020, 6.1% of the total labor force was unemployed and severely affected by the COVID19 outbreak. By 2020, the country reported a 9,106.4 USD GDP per capita, which is not too bad of a figure, especially when compared to its history over the last 100 years

Such numbers do not suggest that the vast majority of Kazakhs are struggling financially. After all, the country is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Yet, those who know how wealthy the country is in terms of natural resources, know that its economic potential is much greater than what the country has achieved. 

The latest crisis triggers many questions over Kazakhstan's Natural Resources, ones we will try to answer in this article.

Kazakhstan's Natural Resources: 

1. Uranium

Kazakhstan has 12% of the world's uranium resources and is the world's largest producer. Used to fuel nuclear reactors, Uranium is one of the most important radioactive metals in the world, and changes in its production rates, prices, or policies could trigger global unrest. 

Kazakhstan and Canada are the top biggest exporters of Uranium to the United States, providing about 22% of its annual needs. 

This latest unrest in Almaty and the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, has led to a global Uranium price hike, despite state-owned Uranium mines stating that they have been unaffected by the crisis.

2. Oil

Kazakhstan is amongst the world's major oil producers with output nearing 1.6 million barrels per day. This is why the recent upheaval in the country has caused a spike in oil prices around the world, especially after production at the country's top field Tengiz was reduced in the wake of violence. 

Kazakhstan's Natural Resources
Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan - Astana (Shutterstock)

3. Natural Gas

Kazakhstan is almost a major producer of natural gas, being the top 24th country in terms of production with 1,515,014 Million Cubic Ft, and with 85,000,000 MMcf reserves, making it the 15th largest country in the world.

4. Coal

Ranking the 10th in the world in terms of coal production, Kazakhstan produces 113,619,501 tons per year, according to 2016 figures.

5. Minerals

Kazakhstan is also quite rich in terms of minerals. The country has mineral reserves for at least 102 types of mineral raw materials, including 40 types of solid minerals.

According to GRATA International, Kazakhstan is the world's 1st richest country in terms of total reserves and quality of chrome ores, second in terms of silver, third in terms of manganese ores, fourth in zinc, fifth in iron ore, eighth in terms of tin metal.

The country is also rich in gold estimated to amount to $48 billion.

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