The Central Asian country produces 18 out of 34 minerals classified as critical by the EU.
In an interview with CNBC, Kazakh Minister of Industry and Construction Kanat Sharlapayev praised the potential of cooperating on critical minerals with the European Union, the Astana Times reports. The partnership is promising, Sharlapayev said. Last year, Kazakhstan and the EU concluded a strategic partnership on raw materials and green hydrogen, and the Asian country has since signed multiple deals with EU member states, including France and Germany. In the interview, Sharlapayev stressed that the EU remains Kazakhstan’s “key trade and investment partner” and emphasized that the country would not be used to circumvent sanctions imposed on countries shipping goods through Kazakhstan, including Russia.
In addition, the minister underlined the nation’s role in uranium production, boasting 14 percent of the world’s proven reserves and being the world’s leading producer, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Geological Survey (PDF). This could provide the country with another angle towards more cooperation with the EU, as the union reinstated nuclear power among its strategic net-zero technologies last week, Euractiv reported.
However, the EU is not alone in its interest in Kazakhstan’s resources. China has also signaled interest in its western neighbor’s rare earths, used for high-strength permanent magnets, for example.