Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Kazakhstan hopes uranium, oil and gas will fuel its future

Kazakhstan: Uranium capital of the world

    Just Watched

    Kazakhstan: Uranium capital of the world

Kazakhstan: Uranium capital of the world 02:39

Story highlights

  • Oil, gas and uranium account for 70% of Kazakhstan's economy
  • Government is developing natural resources industries
  • Revenue from natural resources used to encourage growth of other industries
  • Scheme to pay for citizen's education abroad also used to develop skills and knowledge economy

The featureless plains of Kazakhstan belie what riches lie buried beneath them.

The country has an abundance of natural gas and oil that if developed could more than double the country's crude output in the next decade to 4 million barrels per day, according to the International Energy Agency. That would make it one of the top 7 oil producers in the world.

Add a boom in uranium mining to the country's raw materials portfolio and government figures reveal that 70% of its economy comes from its natural resources.

Kazakhstan's mineral wealth will be a major source of income for decades to come, but it won't last forever. The country is trying to use it wisely to transition to a broader economic base while developing the natural resources industries to the maximum.

Last year Kazakhstan was the world's top producer of uranium, accounting for over a third of global production.

 Paying to avoid the 'brain drain'

    Just Watched

    Paying to avoid the 'brain drain'

Paying to avoid the 'brain drain' 02:50

The industry's rapid expansion, plus the good quality of the uranium and the comparatively cheap method of mining it have combined to give Kazakhstan an advantage over other big exporters like Australia and Canada.

With continued investment, Vladimir Shkolnik, the head of Kazakhstan's national atomic energy company, Kazatomprom, is keen to maintain that position.

Buying into Kazakhstan

    Just Watched

    Buying into Kazakhstan

Buying into Kazakhstan 02:25

"We are hoping to keep our leadership position in the uranium field," he says. "We have dozens of facilities and hundreds of mines and we think we will remain a world leader in the uranium sector."

Beefing up exports

    Just Watched

    Beefing up exports

Beefing up exports 02:51

Kazakhstan's government is also trying to encourage more foreign investment.

Since independence in 1991, around $150 billion of foreign investment has flowed into the country; $18 billion dollars last year alone, according to the government.

Companies like GE and Eurocopter have been attracted to the country, entering partnerships with national companies that have helped bring training and new skills to the local workforce.

While money is flowing from the country's natural resources industry, the government is using some of its revenue to boost other sectors, like IT and engineering. The aim is to make the economy more resilient when commodities prices fall and better prepared for the day when the gush of oil and gas reduce to a trickle.

"Of course revenues from raw materials are still by far the largest share of the country's budget," says energy analyst, Murat Karymsakov. "But in recent years the president (of Kazakhstan) has announced and put into place a plan for industrial and technological development to diversify the economy."

A program that pays for the best and brightest of Kazakhstan's young citizens to study aboard, as long as they return to the country upon graduation, is also helping to create a more knowledgeable, young workforce.

Nurzhan Nazarbayev studied in the U.S. but now works at a new hydrocarbon purification plant in western Kazakhstan. He says he feels it is important to play an active role in contributing to the country's development.

"I am proud to work in this sector; to be a benefit to the nation," he says. "With my background, ten years ago I went to a western university to get education and now I am back in my country, to serve my country."

      Eye on Kazakhstan

    • There is something mirage-like about Kazakhstan's capital as it rises out of the vast empty central Asian steppe.
    • eye on kazakhstan kokpar_00002026

      It won't be an Olympic event, but Kokpar, which involves two teams and a dead goat, is compulsive viewing.
    • Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev attends a meeting in the Moscow Kremlin, on December 19, 2011. The unprecedented weekend riots in Kazakhstan's oil-rich Mangistau region, forced Nazarbayev to declare a 20-day state of emergency in the city of Zhanaozen and deal a blow to a governmnet which prides itslef on attracting foreign investors.

      From a president witout term limits to traditional cuisine, take our quiz to discover the real Kazakhstan.
    • eye.on.kazakhstan.agriculture _00024711

      Kazakhstan's wide open spaces are great for raising cattle, as the country looks to beef up its livestock exports.
    • A Khazak herdsman watches his cows from horseback August 9, 2006 in Icic, a town about an hours drive from Almaty in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

      A news photographer discovered more than he ever thought he would on a routine assignment in Kazakhstan.
    • Petroleum tanks owned by the Canadian oil company Hurricane Kumkol Munai company are shown December 21, 2002 in Chemkent, Kazakhstan. Hurricane Hydrocarbons Ltd. is an international energy corporation engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, production, refining and marketing of oil in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The company has been involved in joint ventures in Kazakhstan since 1991 and participated in the country?s first major oil and gas privatization in November 1996. Hurricane purchased a state-owned oil production company, Yuzhneftegaz, and renamed it Hurricane Kumkol Munai. In 2002, average oil production has been 115,000 barrels a day.

      From oil reserves to uranimum mines learn the stats that matter when it comes to Kazakhstan.