Kazakhstan's president asks mining sector to pay higher taxes

The Central Asian country is the world's top global producer of uranium and has large deposits of copper, iron ore and zinc

A tank at a uranium mine in Kazakhstan. The energy-rich country is the world's top global producer of uranium. Reuters
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Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his government on Tuesday to extract greater tax revenue from the mining sector which, he said, was profiting from higher metals prices.

The energy-rich Central Asian country, which has weathered its worst bout of unrest since it gained independence from the Soviet Union three decades ago, is the world's top global producer of uranium and has large deposits of copper, iron ore and zinc.

The price of uranium, the metal that fuels nuclear power plants, jumped last week after the unrest in Kazakhstan that was initially sparked by protests against an increase in fuel prices but later widened into what the authorities have since called an attempted coup.

"The income of firms in the mining sector has grown against the backdrop of higher prices for raw materials," Mr Tokayev told parliament on Tuesday.

"I am ordering the government to come up with a plan [to bring] additional revenue to the budget. In exchange, we can provide large incentives for the exploration and development of new deposits for large mining and other companies."

Mr Tokayev did not provide additional details on the initiative or the incentives that might be given to mining companies, nor did he say when the measure might come into force.

It was not immediately clear how his plan might affect foreign mining and commodity companies that do business in Kazakhstan, including Glencore, Rio Tinto and French nuclear fuel company Orano.

National mining company Kazatomprom, the world's biggest uranium producer, said last week that its operations and exports were not affected by the unrest, which the authorities said had since been brought under control.

Russia announced a similar mining tax measure last year, imposing higher taxes on metals producers to attract more budget revenue.

Updated: January 11, 2022, 12:53 PM