Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — formerly Central Asia under the Soviet Union — may in the near future provide global mining firms with great opportunities to grow, due to the liberalization of national mining laws that were established by local governments in the recent past. Additionally, the countries are rich in minerals.
The Central Asia region, which is occupied by 72 million people and can be distinguished by huge subsoil resources, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to Mongolia and China in the East.
To date, the interest of various Western mining firms in the region has been comparatively low, which has resulted in the industry being dominated almost completely by the Chinese. Since the USSR collapsed, the Chinese government and a number of the nation’s biggest state-affiliated mining firms have built good relations with the governments of the nations in the region by providing them with fairly cheap loans in exchange for access to their mineral reserves.
Despite this, however, the onset of the pandemic and the resulting stagnation of the economy of China has led to a considerable decrease in Chinese investments in the mining sector of Central Asia. This has forced the local authorities to weigh alternative options of investment.
For instance, the most economically developed country in the region, Kazakhstan, is working on attracting investors that will take part in the development of the nation’s uranium-rich fields. Currently, the country is one of the leading producers of uranium in the world, with a yearly production volume of between 18,000–20,000 tons of uranium.
Additionally, the nation of Kazakhstan contains other mineral reserves, with official estimates showing that the country’s reserves also hold 13% zinc, 10% lead, 10% iron ore, 5.5% copper and 30% of the global reserves of chrome ore. These reserves are predominantly underdeveloped.
In addition to this, another major nation in the Central Asia region, Uzbekistan, is working on furthering the development of its gold mining sector. In the recent times, the country’s gold mining industry has suffered an investment deficiency, which has brought about the stagnation of the nation’s entire gold mining sector.
With respect to gold reserves, the country is the fourth-largest, gold-producing country in the world, with an annual output of roughly 90 tons of gold. The majority of mining analysts in Uzbekistan believe that the country holds great potential in gold mining. However, how to realize this potential has been left entirely to the state’s ability to attract investments for the gold mining industry.
Over in Tajikistan, the government is working on developing Bolshoi Konimansur, which holds one of the world’s biggest deposits of silver. On the other hand, analysts in Kyrgyzstan consider the nation to be the biggest producer of rare earth elements in the Central Asia region.
It can therefore be seen that Central Asia has the potential to be the biggest source of various minerals over the coming decades.
Back in the United States, Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE: American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) has cemented itself as the leading producer of uranium in the country at its three properties in Utah, Wyoming and Texas.
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