In addition to oil, three other mineral fuels were found in significant amounts in Kazakhstan - coal, natural gas, and uranium. Coal from Ekibastuz was used primarily for domestic power and heat generation, and nearly 80 percent of the power stations in Kazakhstan were fired by coal. Coking coal was mined in Karaganda and used mostly in the iron and steel industry. Kazakhstan also exported significant amounts of coal to Russia where a number of power plants had come to depend on Ekibastuz coal as their primary fuel source. Coking coal from Karaganda was also sent to the Magnitogorsk iron and steel works. By contrast, Kazakhstan was a net importer of natural gas throughout the 1990s despite having very significant reserves of natural gas. Like oil, almost all the natural gas was produced in the country’s western regions and exported for processing and use to Russia. Supplies for use in Kazakhstan’s cities were imported from Uzbekistan (for cities in the southern parts of the country) and from Russia (for the north). Kazakhstan also had significant reserves of uranium, estimated to comprise as much as one-quarter of all those in the world, and the mining, milling, and processing industry was an important link in Soviet nuclear programs.
As in the other sectors, the government created new national companies with responsibility for the enterprises in each sector - Kazakhstanugol for coal, Kazakhgasprom for gas, and the Kazakh National Company for Atomic Energy for uranium. Like the national companies in other sectors, none was able to prevent significant declines in output in the early years. From 1992 to 1994, natural gas production declined 44 percent, from slightly more than 8 billion cubic meters in 1992 to 4.5 billion in 1994. Coal production declined as well, from 127 to 112 million tons, continuing