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Kazakhstan tells EU: We can supply all 30 critical raw materials you need


Author name
Georgi Gotev

Senior Editor, Global Europe


 Nov 18, 2022


From left to right: Al-Farabi Ydryshev, Director General of the National Center for Technology Foresight of Kazakhstan,, Peter Handley, Head of Unit for Raw Materials in the Commission’s DG GROW, Marat Karabayev, Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development. [Georgi Gotev]

Languages: Italian


Officials from Kazakhstan told a Brussels audience on Thursday (17 November) that the resource-rich country will soon be able to offer all the 30 critical raw materials the bloc needs, according to a list adopted in 2020.

Vice-Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Marat Karabayev said the main topic of this visit and the meetings held with EU institutions was the implementation of the recently-signed Memorandum between Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov.


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On 7 November on the fringes of the COP27 conference in Egypt, the two agreed to establish a new partnership ensuring the development of a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials, developing renewable hydrogen and battery value chains, and boosting the green and digital transformation of both economies.

In terms of potential in mining and exporting critical raw materials, Kazakhstan ranked fourth worldwide, while in aluminium among the top 10, Karabayev said.

In terms of next steps, a roadmap was needed to implement the memorandum, and for this purpose a “big meeting” was being prepared for 7 December, gathering not only government bodies and the EU, but also participants of the private sector, he said.

Among the issues to be discussed would be bringing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Kazakhstan, especially in the mining sector, creating value chains and value-added cost “so we don’t see Kazakhstan just as a supplier of critical raw materials”, Karavayev said.

Another avenue was the co-financing of research between Kazakhstan and the EU, on issues such as geological digitalistaion.

The EU needed 30 types of rare earth materials, such as beryllium, tantalum, niobium, Karabayev said, referring to a list adopted in 2020. He explained that among them Kazakhs companies currently produce 16. Regarding nine of them, Kazakhstan has deposits, although it does not yet mine them. Regarding the remaining five, he said “we know we have deposits, but we don’t know the quantities”.

Karabayev said that big companies were operating in Kazakhstan, naming Arcelor Mittal, Glencore, Fortescue, Rio Tinto, and in his words a document such as the memorandum would encourage new technology and further cooperation.

Peter Handley, Head of Unit for Raw Materials in the Commission’s DG GROW, said that one of the purposes of the memorandum was to better use technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and generally have a reduced footprint from human economic

Handley added it was very much in line with the spirit of the Commission’s legislative proposal for the security of supply of critical raw materials, to de delivered by March next year, in which the sustainability of supply and the transparency are key.

Another principle, he said, was that the way to do business today was not the way to do business tomorrow, “because there is a lot of innovation” and the developing of skills provided many opportunities.

Al-Farabi Ydryshev, Director General of the National Center for Technology Foresight of Kazakhstan, followed up from Karabayev saying that currently Kazakhstan was able to provide 16 out of 30 critical materials, stressing that “in future, in cooperation with the European Commission, I believe we can reach all 30 elements”.

He said that in the next few years Kazakhstan would become one of the world’s biggest producers of cobalt and nickel, which opens the way for production in the country of technology in the field if green energy.

Ydryshev also said that Kazakhstan had inherited from the Soviet Union technologies for the production of elements such as tantalum which were quite unique, and was developing those further.

“We can supply all the critical raw materials you request from us”, he repeated.

Asked to provide examples of value chains illustrating that Kazakhstan no longer is just as a supplier of critical raw materials, Ydryshev mentioned beryllium, tantalum and titanium processed for the needs of the airspace industry, in particular Airbus.

Karabayev added that to get an understanding of the value chain, one needed to visit the factories, producing airplane parts. “That’s a final product”, he said.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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Kazachstan offers the raw materials that are allowed to export by China and Russia, no more, no less. It is how the life goes on.

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