Supporting a renaissance in Kazakhstan
A vast country that stretches between Russia, China and the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan is in the midst of a mining renaissance that is making it both a showcase of Central Asia’s growing prosperity and a showroom for Atlas Copco’s cutting-edge mining methods and equipment.
With many minerals nestled in its vast plains, Kazakhstan also boasts massive coal reserves in its northern Kazakh Steppe region. In recent years, Atlas Copco has emerged as the drill rig supplier of choice for the many coal-mining companies there, helping them upgrade their technology to raise productivity and lower costs.
Two of those companies – Bogatyr Komir and Borly Coal – operate Atlas Copco blast-hole drill rigs. In addition to the drill rigs used by both, Borly has the distinction of being the first company in the world to receive and use an electric drill rig.
Other Atlas Copco rigs are also being used to extract a wide variety of minerals, oil and gas. For example, the recent delivery of the country’s first Atlas Copco oil-and-gas drill rig has boosted exploration of the huge Karaganda methane field. Similarly, Atlas Copco’s blasthole rigs are being used by Kazakhmys Copper Company and Aktobe Copper Company in the country’s western copper region, while the single-pass Pit Viper 275 is being used by Kazzinc’s Vas gold mine.
According to John Stinson, Atlas Copco, one challenge has been the introduction of new ideas and practices that come with electric-powered rotary drilling methods. Many mining operations have also converted to diesel-powered hydraulic drills and high-pressure Down-The-Hole – or DTH – hammer drilling. “The switch to DTH was hard at first,” he said. “But with time and cooperation, the full benefit was eventually realized.”
He added that in addition to improved production and profitability, the improvements have bolstered both the image and the importance of Kazakhstan’s burgeoning mining industry.
Kazakhstan: Did you know?
The landlocked country’s territory of 2.7 million square kilometers is greater than that of Western Europe.
According to some estimates, Kazakhstan has the world’s second largest uranium, chromium, lead, and zinc reserves, the third largest manganese reserves, the fifth largest copper reserves, and ranks in the top ten for coal, iron, and gold. It is also an exporter of diamonds. Kazakhstan has large proven reserves of both oil and natural gas.
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