Economic Development in Kazakhstan: The Role of Large Enterprises and Foreign Investment

By Anne E. Peck | Go to book overview

6

PRIVATIZATION, FOREIGN INVESTMENT, AND CONSOLIDATION IN THE PRINCIPAL ENTERPRISES OF THE NONFERROUS METALS SECTOR

By the time of Kazakhstan’s independence in late 1991, nonferrous metallurgy accounted for about 11.5 percent of GDP (Sagers 1992c: 503). The sector had also been a major source of environmental damage in Kazakhstan and accounted for 26 percent of the accumulated industrial waste in Kazakhstan (UN-ECE 2000:136). At the mining and enrichment enterprises, there were 5.1 billion tons of mineral wastes that covered 14,000 hectares; at the metallurgical enterprises, another 105 million ton sof wastes covered an additional 500 hectares. The sector declined rapidly after 1991, as illustrated by the production figures displayed in Figure 6.1. The series include the output of refined lead and zinc, refined copper, and alumina. Overall, production of these commodities declined 7.5 percent in 1993, the second full year of independence, and then fell precipitously in 1994 to only 65 percent of 1992 production levels. Production of alumina was least affected, dropping from 1.1 million tons in 1992 to just a bit less than 0.9 million tons in 1994, some 75 percent of 1992 levels. Production of refined lead was most affected with an output decline of nearly 50 percent between 1992 and 1994. Given the importance of the sector in the overall economy, it was hardly surprising that the first large minerals enterprise to be put under a management contract with a foreign firm (as a prelude for the subsequent sale) in hopes of reversing the disastrous output declines was from this sector. It may be somewhat surprising, however, that the first enterprise turned over to foreign management was the alumina plant in Pavlodar, if only because the decline in alumina output was the least dramatic. Recovery in alumina output was fairly prompt, and by 1996 it had returned to levels achieved earlier. Foreign investors were also attracted to most of the other enterprises in the sector from 1995-7, but

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