• KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01173 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09387 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 17

Will Kumtor’s ‘Tails’ Benefit or Harm Kyrgyzstan?

The Finnish company Metso is set to  develop a tailings pond at Kyrgyzstan's Kumtor goldmine but local environmentalists are sceptical, claiming that recycling the waste will bring more damage to the environment than economic benefits. "Tailings" are liquid and solid metal (pulp) remnants of ore processing and according to various estimates, Kumtor's tailings pond contains 70 to 130 tons of gold that could not be mined at the plant.  The remnants of precious metal with harmful waste are mothballed, making secondary mining extremely difficult. The Kyrgyz government however, believes that cooperation with the Finns could provide the state with an annual revenue of some $3.5 billion. Isakbek Torgoev, head of the geo-environmental monitoring laboratory at the Institute of Geomechanics and Subsoil Development of Kyrgyzstan and a candidate of technical sciences, told the Times of Central Asia that the Kumtor tailings pond, grandiose in volume, has over a hundred million tailings. "Throughout the entire phase of the mine -over 30 years - ores were taken from different parts of the Kumtor deposit. At times, ores containing 1.8 grams of gold per ton were dumped in the tailings pond. By comparison, at the Boruu gold mine in Mongolia, that amount of gold is contained in the mined rock, but here it is in the tailings. This is a lot," notes Torgoev. The scientific institute believes that dangerous chemical processes occur in the abandoned ores. "Frankly speaking, I am sceptical about such a development, given that very few successful examples exist worldwide. Especially at Kumtor, with its difficult climatic conditions and frigid winters. Theoretically, the work can be carried out, but practically, we'll see," commented the scientist. According to Torgoev, the price of gold may fall, and because of unprofitability, the Finnish company could refuse to process tailings. Moreover, the reclamation of tailings is a very complicated technological process. In addition to constructing water drains, a layer of a meter thick soil is required to cover them. Otherwise, the waste will go into the rivers and soil, harming the environment. The former owners of Kumtor, the Canadian company Centerra Gold, accumulated about $60 million for the reclamation of the tailings pond after the mine was depleted (tentatively in 2027). However, after the nationalization of the mine, the fate of these funds remains unknown. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan, there are 92 burial sites for toxic and radioactive substances in the country. Of these, 23 tailings contain uranium elements, while the rest are buried with radioactive rock residues, heavy metals, and cyanide.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Production in Kazakhstan

On June 20, Chairman of the Board of Kazakhstan’s national oil and gas company KazMunayGas (KMG) Askhat Khasenov attended a meeting with the management of the American company LanzaJet and the Japanese investment company Mitsui to discuss the production of SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) in Kazakhstan. SAF is an environmentally-friendly version of Jet-1 fuel that reduces carbon emissions by 80%. According to KMG, a preliminary feasibility study for the possible construction of a SAF production facility in Kazakhstan has already been completed by KMG and Air Astana with financial assistance from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The next stage is developing a feasibility study for the actual implementation of the project. Air Astana is currently exploring the use of SAF by its air fleet. Regarding the concept of low-carbon development, the share of SAF consumption by the airline company will gradually increase to 5% by 2040, 15% by 2050, and 25% by 2060. Three large oil refineries owned by KazMunayGas are ready to produce Jet A-1 aviation fuel, which could be mixed with SAF in the future. LanzaJet recently opened LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels in the US, the world's first SAF production facility, with plans to produce 1 billion gallons of SAF by 2030.  

 ‘Save the Berkuts’ Campaign Launched in Kazakhstan

On June 19, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan and Efes Kazakhstan signed a Memorandum to implement “Save the Berkuts”; a campaign aimed to preserve and restore Kazakhstan’s population of golden eagles. The Asian golden eagle known as a berkut, is revered as a living emblem of the country’s culture and history and symbolizing Kazkhstan’s national identity, was incorporated into the country’s flag designed by Shaken Niyazbekov in 1992. With a wingspan of up to two metres, it is the largest member of the hawk family and a formidable hunter,  plays a crucial role in controlling numbers of rabbits, hares, marmots, foxes and even deer. Integral to Kazakhstan’s heritage, the berkut has been famously used by traditional hunters for centuries but its population is now threatened by a gradual destruction of its natural habitat, persecution, and illegal poaching. In recent years, the bird has been officially protected by the state and is included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of protected species. “Save the Berkuts”  is a continuation of a project implemented by Efes Kazakhstan from 2012 to 2019. During this period, 25 golden eagles were bred and released into the wild around Almaty, leading to a significant increase in their numbers in the region. As part of the new campaign, supported by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Efes Kazakhstan has pledged funding to boost and protect the population of wild eagles through expeditions and the maintenance of breeding programmes until 2034. Welcoming the initiative, the ministry stated that the memorandum demonstrates the joint efforts of the state and private business in preserving the natural heritage of Kazakhstan.    

Kazakhstan and South Korea Forward Cooperation in Forestry

On June 17, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to South Korea, Nurgali Arystanov, participated in a celebration of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, established by a UN General Assembly resolution in 1994. Organized in Seoul by the Korea Forest Service, the event was attended by major Korean companies, private and international organizations including the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), as well as students from ecological clubs promoting anti-desertification activities. In his speech, reported by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry, Arystanov noted the successful cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Republic of Korea in the development of forestry, including a joint project to plant saxaul on the desiccated bed of the Aral Sea. He also hailed Astana’s Kazakhstan-Korea Friendship Garden a “symbol of friendship between the Kazakh and Korean peoples.” The ambassador expressed his appreciation of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan and the Korea Forest Service during Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to Kazakhstan on June 11-13. The document provides for cooperation in combating forest fires and the introduction of advanced technologies for monitoring forests using drones, artificial intelligence, and satellites. Progress on cooperation in the forestry sector was further discussed by Ambassador Arystanov and the Minister of the Korea Forest Service, Nam Sung-Hyun, during the former’s visit to Seoul.    

Kyrgyzstan’s Eco-Activists Question Official Data on Rare Animals

According to the state gold mining company Kumtor,  operating near the Sarychat-Ertash high-mountain reserve, the number of red-listed animals has increased significantly as a result of ecological  improvements to their environment.  Local ecologists, however, believe that the data has been intentionally exaggerated. In its report, Kumtor said, "Annual monitoring of the state of biodiversity, conducted by the company, allows us to accurately track the ecological situation on the ground. Care for ecology and the environment is also evident in the increasing numbers of argali, ibex, and snow leopards. For example, the number of argali in the Sarychat-Ertash reserve increased from 750 to 2,500, making it the country's largest population. Capricorns, argali, and snow leopards have also increased in number." Environmental scientists at the National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan (NAS KR) state that whilst a rough count of red-listed animals in hunting farms and state nature reserves shows an increase in all argali and snow leopard subspecies,  the state authorities have not provided an accurate calculation for 14 years. "All hunting farms of the republic every year give the state structures data on the number of argali, ibex, and other red-listed animals. According to their data, the number of animals is growing, but how much this data can be believed remains a question. They are interested parties and may present distorted data,” Askar Davletbayev, an ecologist with the National Academy of Sciences, told The Times of Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, the state protects argali and snow leopards. During the hunting season, however, authorities issue a yearly license to shoot the animals. A popular and lucrative  sport, it attracts visitors from all over the world who willingly pay around 10 thousand dollars to bag an argali. According to eco-activist Vlad Ushakov, the fact that predatory animals living on high mountain ranges have begun to descend to the lower reaches to hunt, has also impacted the figures. "This does not speak of an increase in snow leopards but rather a lack of prey; the forage base has been undermined. In the gorges, where wild animals traditionally used to graze, there is now mass grazing. The snow leopard will not voluntarily change its natural habitat. Ten years ago, we were told there were 300-350 leopards in Kyrgyzstan; today, the same figures apply. Perhaps these are just invented figures with no basis,” Ushakov explained to TCA.

Kyrgyzstan Lifts Ban on Mining of Uranium and Thorium

Deputies of the Kyrgyz Parliament have approved a bill lifting the ban on mining uranium and thorium by 69 votes in favor to three against. Parliamentarians are confident that the legislative changes will bring significant economic dividends to the country. The law banning uranium and thorium mining was passed in 2019. At that time, authorities wanted to sell the license to develop a deposit, but faced a significant pushback from residents who feared the project could harm the environment and damage the water table. The result was a complete ban on the entire territory of the Republic. In the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan alone, 150,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste were accumulated from uranium mining in the last century. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the country has 92 burial sites, with 23 tailing dumps containing uranium elements. Kyrgyzstan's total volume of poisonous and hazardous substances stands at 2.9 million cubic meters. The notes behind the new bill indicate that alternative sources of income are needed due to severe economic impacts over recent years. However, these activities must strictly comply with environmental norms and standards in uranium and thorium mining. Speaking in parliament, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment, and Technical Supervision, Melis Turganbayev assured deputies that the bill's passage would not harm the environment or the health of Kyrgyz citizens. “For uranium mining to be profitable, a deposit needs 40-50 tons. Kyrgyzstan lacks such reserves. There are occurrences from 0.01 to 0.08% in 83 locations. Our goal is not the uranium, but the associated metals,” Turganbayev said. Authorities plan to mine titanomagnetite, which is accompanied by uranium and thorium. Both elements will be processed at the Kara-Balta Combine in Chui Oblast. Thorium will be stored, while uranium will be sold to other states. Iskhak Masaliyev, one of the three deputies who voted against the bill, reminded his colleagues of discussions in the early 2000s on ecology. However, only now has it been possible to begin to eliminate harmful waste. Doctor of Geological and Mineral Sciences, academician Rozalia Jenchuraeva told The Times of Central Asia that the 2019 law banning mining was “a big folly” as it suspended all waste activities and impacted jobs, leaving hazardous materials lying no more than 20 meters deep are slowly contaminating the soil and water. “If they pull it all out, it will be wonderful. It will clean up the land. This is work for the Kara-Balta Combine. I think the government has decided to develop Kyzyl-Ompol, which is the right thing to do,” Jenchuraeva said. Jenchuraeva believes that Kyrgyzstan has qualified personnel who have previously worked at uranium sites, know how to mine uranium and thorium, and can develop the deposits using their expertise and resources. Earlier, President Japarov met with residents near the Kyzyl-Ompol deposit. “The development of Kyzyl-Ompol will create over a thousand jobs. This mine will become the second Kumtor (gold deposit). The local budget will cease to be subsidized, and the people will get richer,” the president said. Kyzyl-Ompol is...