Kazakhstan is richly endowed with natural resources. The country is an important producer of gold, iron ore, coal, cooper, chrome wolfram and zinc.
The country is a producer and net exporter of oil. Reserves are estimated at 12 billion barrels. The current level of production is 470,000 bb/day. Kazakhstan ranks second in oil production after Russia. Its petroleum potential is considered to be exceptional by the international petroleum industry. Production is located in the western part of the Republic while most of its population and two largest refineries are located in the eastern part. The majority of the country’s production, therefore, exported to western Russia, while crude oil for its refineries is imported from central Siberia. Much higher production levels are expected as new supergiant of oil fields are brought on stream by international petroleum companies.
Industry, which accounted for about 40 percent of GDP in 1991 is dominated by mining and processing activities, largely geared to exploring die rich natural resources base. There are processing plants for both ferrous and nonferrous metals, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country close to the mineral deposits. Local industries produce heavy machinery and tools. Refineries and petrochemical plants also take advantage of existing hydrocarbon resources. Besides these industries, Kazakhstan has a variety of processing industries, including meat and fish canneries, wineries and footwear and textile manufacture.
The Temirtau Karaganda Metallurgical Combine, which operates a number of blast furnaces and steel mills, is the Republic’s largest industrial enterprise in terms of output value. In 1989 it had 28 200 employees and its output was valued at US$ 2.0 billion. In terms of number of workers, however, it is much smaller than Karaganda anthracile coal mines (with 65 200 workers). There are five other large enterprises, each with more than 10 000 workers, in mining and minerals (cooper, lead, zinc, iron ore and coal). In the machinery and equipment subsector, the largest single enterprise is the Pavlodar Tractor works (20 000 employees and output valued at close to US$ 1.0 billion in 1989).
Kazakhstan has large tracts of arable land. This vast area supports a wide variety of rainfed and irrigated agriculture and the country is a significant producer and exporter of agricultural products. Livestock husbandry is a traditional industry of the indigenous population, based on the extensive opportunities for grazing. Agricultural production constituted about 34 percent of GDP in 1991. The most important agricultural products include wheat, maize for folder, livestock products, cotton and wool. Agricultural industries exploit the products of cotton and sugar beets in the south as well as fruits and vegetables grown throughout the country.
Kazakhstan’s economy is closely linked with the economies of other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), especially Russia. Exports to Russia comprised about 60 percent of total exports, while imports from Russia accounted for over two-fliirds of total imports in the late 1980s. About 9 percent of exports and 12 percent of imports directed to the countries outside the CIS in 1991. China has been the largest of these trading partners followed by some Eastern European countries.
The traditionally close economic ties with other members of the CIS are reflected in the Republic’s infrastructure, which is largely geared to serving the economy of the CIS without regard to republican borders.
Young country is very interested in development of its trade with the West as well as with other Asian countries.