Kazakhstan's mining industry worth almost $30 billion by 2017

Kazakhstan's mining industry value is set to soar in the next four years, reaching US$29.5 billion by 2017, slightly down from previous forecasts, due mainly to the recent overall decline in commodity prices, says a newly-published report by Business Monitor.

Growth will be led almost exclusively by the coal, gold and copper sectors, which together account for the majority of the value of the Central Asian nation's mining industry.

Coal remains one of the core industries for Kazakhstan, employing around 40,000 people only in the mineral-rich province of Karaganda, which yield more than 17 million tons of coal in the first 7 months of 2013.

"New deposits Zhalyn and Kumyskuduk are being developed now. Karagandagiproshakht Institute has prepared a package plan of development of the mining industry in Karaganda until 2020," governor Oblast Baurzhan Abdishev was quoted as saying last August.

Copper production is also a bright spot in the country, given aggressive expansion plans by London-based miner Kazakhmys (LON:KAZ) and giant Rio Tinto's (ASX, LON:RIO) commitment to invest $100 million in exploring northern Kazakhstan for copper.

Some of the forecasted mining boom is already becoming evident. A study published by PwC last week showed that the nation was second in the list of major merger and acquisitions this year, with Kazak billionaires, along with the Republic of Kazakhstan, representing the second and third largest transactions during the period involving a $4.6 billion stake in Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (LON:ENRC).

The Republic of Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country by land area and it is bigger than all Western Europe.

According to data provided by the Embassy of Kazakhstan to the U.S. and Canada, the Asian country holds the second largest uranium, chromium, lead, and zinc reserves, as well as the third largest manganese deposits and the world’s No. 5 copper reserves.

The country is also said to rank in the top ten for iron, and gold, it’s a well-known diamonds exporter and holds the 11th largest proven reserves of both petroleum and natural gas. In fact, FT.com reported Monday that the giant Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea, in which it was announced last weekend that China was taking a stake, could catapult Kazakhstan into the top five global oil exporters.

Image: Miners' House of Culture, Karaganda, via Wikimedia Commons.