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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has ordered his government 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 just 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 following the recent unrest in Kazakhstan that was initially sparked by protests against a hike in fuel prices but widened into what the authorities have since called an attempted coup d’etat.
“The income of firms in the mining sector has grown against the backdrop of higher prices for raw materials,” Tokayev told parliament. .”I am ordering the government to come up with a plan (to bring) additional revenues to the budget. In exchange we can provide large incentives for the exploration and development of new deposits for large mining and other companies.”
Tokayev did not provide additional details on the initiative or on the incentives that might be given to mining firms. Nor did he say when the measure might come into force. It was therefore not immediately clear how Tokayev’s plan might affect foreign mining and commodity companies such as Glencore, Rio Tinto and French nuclear fuel firm Orano that do business in the Central Asian country.
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 say has since been brought under control. Russia announced a similar mining tax measure last year, imposing higher taxes on metals firms to attract more budget revenue.