Nazarbayev Urges Lift of Mineral Exploration License Ban

January 24, 2013

Kazakhstan's president has urged his government to move more quickly to lift a four-year moratorium on issuing new mineral exploration license to develop new deposits and ease the grip of local clans on the country's natural wealth, according to Reuters.

"I have already given an order on lifting the moratorium," Nursultan Nazarbayev told the government during a meeting which was broadcast live on Wednesday.

"This is needed to attract investment in developing new deposits. I have given you the go-ahead ... So what's the problem?" he said.

Nazarbayev, 72, who has run central Asia's largest economy for more than two decades, was referring to his instruction given to the government last November to remove the moratorium on subsoil use.

Kazakhstan holds uranium reserves second only to Australia's. Five times the size of France, the country also has the world's largest chromium reserves and substantial copper, iron ore and zinc deposits.

But less than 15 percent of Kazakhstan's explored metals reserves are currently in production, official data show, with only 75 of 282 identified gold deposits and 19 of 55 iron ore deposits in operation.

Despite its prospectivity, Kazakhstan receives less than 1 percent of global investment in metals exploration. Miners have no guarantee they will be able to develop any reserves that they might discover.

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