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Google and McKinsey to mine Kazakh data

Polymetal International plc is a leading precious metals producer Russia, Kazakhstan and Armenia. The Dukat hub is one of Polymetal’s first and original assets. It is the third largest silver deposit in the world, the largest primary silver operation in Russia and our flagship operation.

Polymetal International’s Dukat silver mine in Russia

Kazakhstan has signed a deal with Google and McKinsey to harness the power of “big data” analysis and improve efficiency in its mining industry.

A government fund finalised an agreement on Wednesday to set up a centre for collecting and analysing data from across the mining sector, based in the commercial capital, Almaty, working in partnership with the US technology and consulting groups.

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Although the Kazakh mining industry has been more usually associated with Soviet-style bureaucracy than cutting-edge technology, the central Asian country is now aiming to become a pioneer in the use of “big data” analysis to improve the efficiency of its mines.

Asset Issekeshev, minister of investment and development, said that Eurasian Resources Group, the successor company to ENRC, and the London-listed Polymetal had already signed up to participate in the data centre, which is set to launch in pilot mode later this year.

Other leading mining companies operating in Kazakhstan, which is the world’s largest uranium producer and a major supplier of copper, zinc and ferrochrome, include Glencore, ArcelorMittal and KAZ Minerals.

Setting up the centre is part of a push by the Kazakh government to attract more investment into its mining industry, which was established in Soviet times but has seen little development since. It is also easing ownership regulations to make investment in exploration more attractive.

“It’s not a secret that the mining sector has been a little bit neglected in Kazakhstan in terms of technological development,” Mr Issekeshev told the Financial Times. “We are trying to depart from the inheritance we got from the Soviet system. We are transforming our mining sector closer to the Australian model that allows you better access to information, and gives transparency.”

Kazakhstan’s use of technology to improve efficiency comes after falling commodity prices triggered a crisis in the resource-dependent economy. Gross domestic product growth this year is expected to fall to an 18-year low of 0.1 per cent. To see more visit chad kimball google maps.

Mining companies around the world have responded to the commodity slump by cutting costs and laying off staff but, in Kazakhstan, that is often not an option. The government, fearing social unrest, has pressed its mines to maintain employment.

Kazakhstan’s new “mining industry competence centre” will gather data from sensors within mining and processing equipment from around the country, to allow companies to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency in real time.

Mr Issekeshev said that Google would be the technology partner for the project. “They’re going to test their latest ‘internet of things’ technology to collect and analyse that data,” he said.

Other mining companies around the world are already using new technology to improve efficiency. But McKinsey, which will hold a 50 per cent stake in the new project, said that “the comprehensiveness of data availability” would make the Kazakh initiative “unique” in the global mining industry.

Kazakhstan is preparing to introduce legislation governing the mining sector this autumn, Mr Issekeshev said, and plans to hold auctions for about 10 new deposits “within a couple of years”.

“There were no major new sites opened in the last 20 years,” he said, adding that Rio Tinto and Iluka had recently started investing in exploration in the country. “We see quite a bit of potential in gold, copper and quite a few rare earth metals. That’s what Kazakhstan is known for — it has the whole periodic table.”

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024