The Kazakh government is being urged to further reduce bureaucratic obstacles to help attract even more investors in the country’s mining sector.1

Central Asia Metals’ director general Nick Clarke told delegates at MINEX Central Asia 2012 in Astana recently, “For the Kazakh government to attract foreign investors in the mining sector, where there is great potential for production, it should create conditions so that small and medium-sized mining companies come here in the first place.

“By creating the conditions I mean the reduction of bureaucratic obstacles, since for small and medium-sized companies time is money,” he said.

Nick Clarke cited his Kazakhstan operation as an example, with Central Asia Metals opening a $17 million enterprise in the Karaganda region for the production of cathode copper in December last year. He said the company began its operation within 18 months, but it could have been an even shorter period with less red tape.

He also said that there were similar problems in other Central Asian nations, which all served to deter investors and foreign companies from becoming involved.

GPW senior analyst Kate Mallinson also commented on the problems faced by investors who choose to enter the mining sector in Kazakhstan and Central Asia as a whole. She said one of these problems is a frequent change of provincial akims (governors).

“Investors need to remember that one of the legacies of the Soviet Union is the bureaucracy, and there are local levels which enjoy the benefits of working with companies. It is important to have friendly relations with local officials, local staff in order to avoid problems at the local level, which may be of a large scale," she said.

First Deputy Prime Minister Serik Ahmetov assured the forum’s 400 delegates that Kazakhstan will continue to simplify the procedures involved in obtaining subsoil use rights.

“Work is under way to reduce administrative barriers and simplify licensing procedures. Their reduction is significant today. We want to simplify the licensing procedures relating to the procedures for obtaining subsoil use rights,” he said.

He said that Kazakhstan’s economy depends largely on the mining sector and it is in the country’s interest to see that its subsoil assets are developed in a way that benefits everyone. “The main task for the government is to ensure stable economic growth.”

He says it is also important to make it as easy as possible for geologists as the people tasked with finding the deposits. “We have to ensure Kazakh geologists can be trained and we have to ensure that foreign geologists play a part in this process as well as assist in realizing the nation’s mineral wealth.”

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