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EU and Uzbekistan Establish Strategic Partnership on Critical Raw Materials

On April 5th, European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Uzbekistan's Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade Laziz Kudratov signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a strategic partnership on critical raw materials (CRMs). Rich in copper, molybdenum, and gold, Uzbekistan has the second-largest reserves of CRMs in Central Asia and an ambitious mining strategy aimed to increase processing for both domestic and international industries, particularly in automotive and consumer electronics. As reported by the Delegation of the European Union to Uzbekistan, the new strategic partnership marks a significant step towards securing responsible production alongside a diversified and sustainable supply of CRMs for green and digital transitions in both the EU and Uzbekistan. “This agreement with resource-rich Uzbekistan will help the EU to secure much-needed access to critical raw materials,” commented Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade. “It is part of our wider global outreach to work with partners on securing materials for the future. For Uzbekistan, this will deliver a major boost to its ambitions to economic diversification, develop its extractive industry in a sustainable and resilient manner.”

Kazakhstan and Great Britain Sign Strategic Partnership on Critical Minerals

A strategic partnership on critical minerals has been signed by Iran Sharkhan, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Construction, and Nusrat Ghani, UK’s Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, Minister of State for the Investment Security Unit, and Minister for Industry and Economic Security. The document was signed in London at the Mineral Processing and Circular Economy Business Forum (March 11-15). At his meeting with Nusrat Ghani, Mr Sharkhan discussed Kazakhstan’s principal aims, including the exchange of raw materials for technology and entry into the global value chain. He also encouraged British companies’ involvement in investment projects in Kazakhstan. The forum included B2B meetings, where entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan and Great Britain discussed collaboration in the field of critical raw materials and specific project proposals. The Kazakh delegation also held meetings with UK mining and metallurgical companies: Techmet, Maritime House Ltd., Ionic Rare Earth, Mkango Resources Ltd., Haig Barrett Partners, and FSEE.

Kazakh-European Proposal for CRM and Green Hydrogen Strategy

Some 60 high-ranking officials from the European Union and representatives of the EU business community attended a meeting on March 5th organized by the Kazakh Embassy in Belgium. A high-level event, its key focus was Kazakh-European cooperation on critical raw materials (CRM), green hydrogen and batteries. In November 2022, Kazakhstan and the European Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding on sustainable raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen value chains, and adopted a Roadmap for its implementation in 2023. At the meeting on March 5th, Bolat Akchulakov, energy advisor to the president of Kazakhstan, emphasized the importance of the Kazakhstan-EU Memorandum of Understanding for strategic partnership in achieving common objectives of green transition. Luc Devigne, deputy managing director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service (EEAS), praised the development of the Kazakhstan-EU relationship as a “success story of cooperation.” Referencing the EU’s readiness to further strengthen this partnership, he stated that it would ensure both the sustainability of supply chains and the achievement of common goals regarding climate change. As part of the event, Kazakhstan’s national company Kazakh Invest presented a report on CRM at its Brussels office. Kazakhstan produces 19 of the 34 critical raw materials listed by the European Union. Kazakh manufacturers currently supply the EU with beryllium, tantalum, and titanium but have the potential to further exploit the country's cache of other raw materials. By establishing plants to process reserves of nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium, Kazakh enterprises will be able to produce batteries, essential for electric vehicles.

Kazakhstan Seeks U.S. Cooperation to Develop Critical Minerals

During a visit to the United States on March 1st, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Industry and Construction, Kanat Sharlapaev met David Applegate, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, to discuss expanding bilateral cooperation regarding mineral deposits in Kazakhstan. Of Kazakhstan’s 50 types of minerals, 17 were identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as critical. As reported by Sharlapaev, the key aims of future collaborations are attracting investment in geological exploration, mining, and the processing of rare and rare-earth metals, as well as facilitating Kazakhstan's integration to the global market through cutting-edge technologies and expertise. Speaking at a roundtable discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with members of the Kazakh-American Business Council (USKZBC) and representatives of American companies, the minister outlined the benefits afforded by consolidating the partnership between Kazakhstan and the USA. Emphasis was placed on the strategic potential of mining rare and rare earth metals and the development of related industries. In particular, he cited the importance of creating a cluster of industries in Kazakhstan to produce raw materials for batteries, including nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium and with reference to reforms on the use of subsoil to attract investment, encouraged US mining companies to participate in forthcoming auctions in Kazakhstan.

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