Copper is offering renewable energy opportunities in minerals-rich Kazakhstan despite political turmoil

Special Copper is offering renewable energy opportunities in minerals-rich Kazakhstan despite political turmoil
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Updated 07 January 2022

Copper is offering renewable energy opportunities in minerals-rich Kazakhstan despite political turmoil

Copper is offering renewable energy opportunities in minerals-rich Kazakhstan despite political turmoil
  • With an ever-increasing shift toward renewable energy, it seems that copper extraction is set for an upswing

CAIRO: Kazakhstan’s attendance at next week’s Future Mineral Forum in Saudi Arabia is looking increasingly unlikely following the protests sweeping the nation — just as the country is on the cusp of exploiting a growing demand for the copper reserves it has below its surface.

The demonstrations — sparked by a dramatic rise in car fuel prices — led Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to dismiss the entire government before issuing a state of emergency.

As such, there is likely to be an empty chair at the Forum set to begin on Jan. 11 in Riyadh.

If there is a Kazakhstan absence from the three-day event, it will be a missed opportunity for the country to explore business opportunities in its minerals reservoir, namely in copper mining.

Compared to conventional energy sources, renewable energy generation is much more copper intensive, providing multiple opportunities to KAZ Minerals — one of the largest copper producers in Kazakhstan.

With an ever-increasing shift toward renewable energy, it seems that copper extraction is set for an upswing, and KAZ Minerals is welcoming this development.




In 2020, Kazakhstan was the world’s second largest producer of chromium with a global share of 16.8 percent and an output of 6.7 million tons. (Supplied)

The Central Asian republic, a country with a wealthy stock of minerals, boosted its copper production by a yearly 3.2 percent to 580,000 tons in 2020, or around 3 percent of global output, according to estimates by the US Geological Survey.

KAZ Minerals was solely respon- sible for the production of 306,000 tons during the year, with production mainly deriving from the Aktogay and Bozshakol mines, together making up 253,200 tons of the company’s total supply.

Copper is a very efficient conduit, making it well-placed for renewable energy generation from solar, hydro, thermal and wind energy sources, according to the International Copper Association and the Copper Alliance.

The metal also aids in reducing CO2 emissions and the power needed to supply electricity. In addition, it is a highly recyclable material, cementing its place as one of the leading renewable resources, the organization added.

“Increasing penetration of renewables in the energy mix and carbon neutrality targets announced by various countries augur well for copper-intensive green end-use sectors,” Wood Mackenzie — a global energy research and consultancy — was cited by KAZ Minerals in its website.

However, it’s not only copper that is in abundance in the former Soviet republic; the country is a large supplier of many other minerals. This is shown through the sizable share of the mining and quarrying sector in Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product, making up 12.2 percent of output in 2020, official data revealed.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Central Asian republic, a country with a wealthy stock of minerals, boosted its copper production by a yearly 3.2 percent to 580,000 tons in 2020, or around 3 percent of global output, according to estimates by the US Geological Survey.

In 2020, Kazakhstan was the world’s second largest producer of chromium with a global share of 16.8 percent and an output of 6.7 million tons. The country also had the biggest known reserves of the mineral, standing at 230 million tons.

In 2020, Kazakhstan was the world’s second largest producer of chromium with a global share of 16.8 percent and an output of 6.7 million tons, estimated data from the US Geological Survey showed. The country also had the biggest known reserves of the mineral, standing at 230 million tons.

The world’s largest landlocked country was also a major extractor of gold, as it produced 100 tons of the commodity in 2020. This is compared to China, the world’s top supplier, which had an output of 380 tons, the Virginia-based organization said.

Moreover, Kazakhstan has 12 percent of the world’s uranium resources and produced 43 percent of the metal’s global output in 2020, according to the World Nuclear Association.

It is also one of the top producers of lead, manganese, zinc and iron ore, among others.

Kazakhstan is seeking to attract private investment in the mining sector, despite government and state-owned firms’ ability to finance the sector’s projects, GRATA International, an international law firm, said.

This is why the country entered several international and bilateral investment treaties. It also established the Astana International Financial Center — where disputes may be resolved under common law principles.

With the exception of uranium, Kazakhstan doesn’t impose restrictions on foreign investments in the exploration and mining sector related to solid minerals, except for artisanal mining licenses issued to Kazakh citizens only.


Indian currency seen at record low as dollar, US yields surge; RBI eyed

Indian currency seen at record low as dollar, US yields surge; RBI eyed
Updated 59 min 42 sec ago

Indian currency seen at record low as dollar, US yields surge; RBI eyed

Indian currency seen at record low as dollar, US yields surge; RBI eyed
  • The rupee is tipped to open at around 81.30 per US dollar, down from 80.9900 in the previous session

MUMBAI: The Indian rupee is poised to hit a new lifetime low against the US currency on Monday, as worsening risk sentiment and a tumbling pound lifted the dollar index to its highest since 2002.
The rupee is tipped to open at around 81.30 per US dollar, down from 80.9900 in the previous session.
The local unit had reached a record low of 81.2250 on Friday, prompting the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to sell dollars, according to traders. The RBI’s intervention had aided the rupee to turn briefly higher on Friday.
“It will be another choppy and volatile session. All eyes will be on state-run banks at open,” a trader at a Mumbai-based bank said, alluding to intervention from the RBI through these banks.
“The intervention by RBI at 81.20 was quite forceful and markets will want to know if that level will be protected again,” the trader said, adding, the RBI may not be too inclined to intervene given the “carnage” across Asian currencies.
The dollar index in Asia trading climbed above 114.50, the highest since May 2002, thanks to demand for safe-haven assets and a collapsing British pound.
The pound tumbled to a record low on Monday on fears the new government’s economic plan will stretch its finances to the limit. The rout prompted speculation of an emergency response from the Bank of England.
Asian equity gauges fell by as much as 2.4 percent and futures pointed to more losses for the S&P 500 Index. The offshore Chinese yuan declined below 7.16 to the dollar and the Korean won dropped more than a percent.
Treasury yields continued to march higher, not benefiting from the risk-off sentiment. The 2-year Treasury yield reached a fresh multi-year high of 4.27 percent on bets that the Federal Reserve will continue to hike rates aggressively despite the mounting growth risks. 


Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022

Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022
Updated 25 September 2022

Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022

Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022
  • The Gulf country will see modest hike in oil production in 2022 to 0.19 mbpd

RIYADH: Bahrain’s gross domestic product grew 6.9 percent year on year in the second quarter of 2022, posting the biggest annual increase since 2011, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa said on Twitter on Sunday.

In the first quarter, the Gulf country’s GDP grew 5.5 percent year on year at constant prices. The country’s non-oil economy recorded growth of 7.8 percent in the same period.

According to the latest Economic Insight report for the Middle East, commissioned by ICAEW and compiled by Oxford Economics, Bahrain’s oil sector growth will be driven by higher oil production, despite a decline in the first quarter. Since 2015, the annual real growth of Bahrain’s oil sector has only expanded once relative to the previous year, in 2019. Based on the current OPEC+ agreement, Bahrain will see a modest increase in oil production in 2022 to 0.19 million barrels per day from 0.17 million bpd.

This small increase, combined with elevated prices, will return the oil sector to growth in 2022 before stagnating again as the government continues its diversification efforts. The forecast is for oil production to expand by 5.8 percent in 2022, compared to 2.4 percent in 2021.

Scott Livermore, ICAEW economic adviser, and chief economist and managing director, Oxford Economics Middle East, said: “The surge in oil prices and introduction of a 10 percent VAT is supporting Bahrain’s revenues and will help authorities come close to balancing the budget in 2022, two years earlier than the 2024 target set in the Fiscal Balance Program.”

The rise of inflationary pressures and rate hikes by the US Fed will force the Central Bank of Bahrain into more rate increases, beyond the 225 basis points cumulative increase in the key policy rate already this year.

Inflation averaged 3.4 percent in the first half this year, a level not seen since 2016, before rising to 3.9 percent in July.

ICAEW expects inflation to average 3.9 percent this year after prices fell annually in both 2020 and 2021.

Consumer spending is likely to be increasingly constrained going into 2023, leading to a GDP growth slowdown to below 2 percent by 2024.

As of now, the central bank has sufficient reserves to maintain the currency peg with the US dollar and is likely to follow policy moves by the Fed closely so it’s not expected to have significant pressure to devalue the dinar.

The current account returned to surplus in 2021 at 6.7 percent of GDP, the largest surplus since 2013. ICAEW expects the higher price of oil exports and a continued resurgence of international travel to push this surplus above 10 percent in 2022.


Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers

Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers
Updated 25 September 2022

Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers

Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers

RIYADH: In a bid to create more jobs for Saudi nationals, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has started the implementation of its localization program at amusement parks  and entertainment centers.

The ministry aims to localize 70 percent of the jobs in that area. It also seeks to localize entertainment centers within closed commercial complexes by 100 percent. The ministry has published on its website a step-by-step guide for the implementation of its decision. Failure to comply with the decision after the grace period, which is 180 days from April 4, 2022, will result in penalties.

The ministry also said the localization decision is applicable to all leisure centers across the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is working to localize 18 professions over the next year, as the Kingdom steadily progresses in its efforts to create more jobs in line with Vision 2030, according to Saudi Transport Minister Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser.

In June, the ministry issued six decisions to localize a number of professions and activities, in cooperation with the regulatory authorities.

In a statement, the ministry said the localized professions include licensed aviation, optics, customer service, regular inspection activities, outlets of postal and parcel delivery services, and outlets of seven business activities across the Kingdom.

The move aims to provide Saudi nationals with more than 33,000 job opportunities.

The decision to localize the licensed aviation professions will be implemented in two phases: The first starts on March 15, 2023 and includes the 100 percent localization of copilots, air controllers, and dispatchers. Meanwhile, the aviation transport pilot and air host professions will be 60 percent and 50 percent localized, respectively.

The second phase will start on March 4, 2024, and includes the localization of airline transport pilot and air host professions by 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively. The decision applies to all private establishments, which have five or more employees in the specified professions.


TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell

TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell
Updated 25 September 2022

TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell

TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell

RIYADH: The Saudi main index, also known as TASI, and the parallel market, Nomu, edged down on Sunday. 

At the closing bell on Sunday, TASI was down 2.61 percent at 11,161. Nomu was down 1.91 percent at 19,875. 

Hail Cement Co. rose 8.02 percent to lead the gainers. Among the other gainers, Dallah Healthcare Co. was up 3.26 percent.

Alinma Tokio Marine Co. led the fallers, as it was down 8.92 percent at the end of today's trading session. 

Aramco, the largest player in the Saudi oil market, was down 2.64 percent at the end of Sunday's session.

In the banking sector, Alinma Bank and Al Rajhi Bank went down 3.27 percent, and 3.31 percent respectively. 

In the food and beverage sector, Almarai Co. went down 2.78 percent.

Oil prices had plunged about 5 percent on Friday. Brent crude is currently priced at $86.15 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate is at $78.74 a barrel.


Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%

Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%
Updated 25 September 2022

Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%

Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%

RIYADH: Saudi stocks started and ended sharply lower on Sunday, in response to the Saudi Central Bank raising interest rates in line with the Fed's steep rate hike and forecast for further hikes to curb inflation, but analysts believe the impact on the market will be short-lived.

Hesham AbouJamee anticipated that the market will remain stable for the remainder of this week, and will turn positive next week.

“What’s happening today is a reflection of what is happening in the global markets and currencies. I think the shock will be only today,” the founder and CEO of Mekyal Financial Technologies, told Arab News.

However, Fawaz Al-Fawaz, a Saudi-based independent economist and columnist, argues that the market will continue to shift. 

“The markets are likely to continue to be volatile and in jittery mode until inflation is under control.”

At the end of Sunday’s session, the Tadawul All Share Index declined 2.61 percent to end at 11,161, while the parallel market Nomu declined 1.92 percent to finish at 19,875.

Speaking to Arab News, Saudi economist Ali Alhazmi said that the rate hike is not the only factor for this decline.

“The decline is also from the uncertainty about the global economics, or also the decline of growth and the existence of recession in major economies, especially the US and the EU.”

“We cannot avoid the continued closure in China, which affects supply chains. We also have the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.”

Ultimately, he concluded that the market direction is unpredictable, but he anticipated the decline to continue this week.