The Republic of Kazakhstan Government has entered into an agreement with China Nonferrous Metal Mining to build a copper smelter at a cost of $1.5bn.

To be built near Aktogay village in the Abay region, this smelter is projected to have an annual copper production capacity of 300,000t.

The agreement was signed between KAZ Minerals Smelting and NFC as the supplier of design services and procurement of process equipment, and NFC Kazakhstan.

NFC Kazakhstan will be the construction and commissioning contractor.

The copper concentrate required for the smelter will be sourced from the Bozshakol and Aktogay mining and processing operations of Vostoktsvetmet.

This strategic move will establish a cluster that integrates one of the largest copper mines globally with the copper smelting facility.

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The project is also said to be a significant employment opportunity, promising to create more than 1,000 jobs. The smelter’s commissioning is targeted by the end of 2028.

Once completed, the new smelter will satisfy domestic market demands for copper cathode and other copper-containing materials.

Apart from copper, the plant is designed to produce refined gold, silver and sulphuric acid.

The signing ceremony was attended by Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov.

Bektenov said: “The Head of State has set the task of sustainable economic growth.

“The construction of the new copper smelter is a major industrial project that will increase the processing of copper raw materials mined in the country and will make a great contribution to the economy of our country.

“Copper industry is one of the priority sectors of our industry and its dynamic development is very important for us.”