Why few new deposits are being discovered in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is facing a decrease in production volume due to a lack of replenishment of mineral reserves. The reserves of some developed fields are set to be depleted soon, and large metal deposits such as Orlovskoye, Maleevskoye, Tishinskoye and Ridder-Sokolnoye will be mined by 2025-2040. The main reasons for the lack of new mineral deposits are that the surface has already been explored, and new deposits are difficult to find. The geologist Alexander Glukhov explains that the territory of Kazakhstan was well-studied during the Soviet Union, and the areas offered for exploration have already been explored several times. He also adds that some found deposits are unprofitable for investors, as the amount of a useful component contained in the subsoil is not worth the funds needed to extract it. The shortage of staff is another problem for the geological industry, as many competent specialists left the industry during the general crisis and scanty financing of the industry at the beginning of the 2000s. The lack of middle-aged workers also means that there is no one to pass on the baggage of knowledge to current graduates of universities and colleges. The government also allocates insufficient funds for the industry, with state investments in 2020-2022 amounting to only 30 billion tenge. Additionally, the recent increase in mineral extraction tax rates for exchange-traded metals by 50%, and for other solid minerals – by 30%, has caused concern among market participants that mining companies will have to reduce their activities, abandon new projects and ultimately reduce the number of jobs.