Assessing economic sustainability of mining in Kazakhstan

Zauresh Atakhanova, Seribolat Azhibay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Kazakhstan is a leading producer of uranium and chromium and has significant reserves of critical raw materials. We assess economic sustainability of Kazakhstan’s mining, focusing on its labor productivity, a key factor in counteracting the effects of resource depletion and increasing costs. We find that during 2000–2021, labor productivity continued improving in mining of non-ferrous metals and industrial minerals. Our firm-level analysis demonstrates that domestic non-ferrous mining firms were able to achieve productivity level comparable to that of modern mining industries. They reduced energy intensity, increased efficiency of processing plants, and accessed higher-quality reserves. In addition, managerial innovations, engaging with the workforce, and introduction of advanced technologies were prominent in analyzed firms. However, following a period of rapid growth during the early 2000s, productivity stagnated in Kazakhstan’s coal mining while it decreased in iron ore mining. We relate such performance to iron ore depletion from underinvestment in exploration. In coal mining, stagnating productivity reflects this sector’s protected status and substantial fossil fuel subsidies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMineral Economics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Copper mining
  • Depletion
  • Energy intensity
  • Panel data analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economic Geology


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