Kazakhstan seeks presence in potash market with $3.8 bln China investment

Dec 14 Kazakhstan aims to become an important player in the world’s potash fertiliser market after securing billions of dollars in financing from China on Sunday, a senior Kazakh official said.

The central Asian country is better known internationally for its vast reserves of oil and metals, but is keen to expand its presence in other areas, while China wants to tap global resources such as fertilisers.

Kazakh Investment and Development Minister Aset Isekeshev told reporters China would invest $3.8 billion in the development of Kazakhstan’s potash deposits and in fertliser output, aiming to increase production to 7 million tonnes in 2025 from a current 1 million.

“This will be a very big project, taking into account the world’s general potash fertiliser demand of 45 million tonnes, of which 7 million tonnes will be produced here in 2025,” Isekeshev said.
Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Kazakh counterpart Karim Masimov oversaw the signing, part of a package of economic agreements between the two neighbours which Li estimated at a total of $14 billion.
Isekeshev said Kazakhstan Potash Corp, which is controlled by Chinese businessmen, would start building two potash plants in 2015-16, creating 5,000 jobs.

Kazakhstan Potash had in 2011 acquired rights to develop the Chelkarskaya deposit in the West Kazakhstan region and the Zhilyanskoe deposit in the Aktobe region in the northeast of the country, the company said on its website (www.kazakhpotash.com).

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Chinese state-owned investment company CITIC signed the financing agreement with Kazakhstan’s government and Kazakhstan Potash in the Kazakh capital Astana.
Other agreements signed in Astana on Sunday included an accord between the two countries’ central banks on mutual payments in their two currencies and on currency swaps to facilitate their trade which is growing by 20 percent a year.
China is Kazakhstan’s main export destination and is its second-largest foreign trade partner. Kazakhstan is China’s second-largest trade partner in the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States. (Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by David Holmes)