Kazakhstan is one of the world leaders in chromite mining, production and reserves, according to the United States Geological Survey.
The country was the third biggest chromite producer in 2018 with 4.6 million tonnes. South Africa and Turkey were the largest and second largest with 16 million and 6.5 million tonnes, respectively.
Kazakhstan, however, ranks first in chromite ore reserves with 230 million tonnes, followed by South Africa (200 million tonnes) and India (100 million tonnes). The nation produced 4.1 million tonnes in the first seven months of 2018, 5.7 percent more than the 3.9 million tonnes in the same period of 2017. Chrome concentrate extraction increased 5.3 percent to 2.9 million tonnes this year compared to 2.8 million tonnes in the same period of 2018.
Total sales increased 7.4 percent per year to 1.6 million tonnes. High-carbon ferrochrome sales reached 1.4 million tonnes, a 9.1-percent per year increase.
Ferrochrome is mainly used to produce stainless steel and higher sales directly reflect changes in market conditions and demand, noted the survey. According to Kazchrome’s annual report, analysts predict an increased demand for stainless steel due to the ongoing urbanisation and economic development of China, India and other emerging countries. Demand for stainless steel is expected to grow 3.6 percent per year through the end of 2030, which will lead to an increase in demand for ferrochrome and chrome ore.
At the same time, chromium ore supply growth in the medium term will be limited and face a shortage by 2020 and major price increases are expected to affect chromium ore and ferrochrome growth.
Kazchrome sales revenue in 2018 was 750 billion tenge (US$1.9 billion), an increase from 702 billion tenge (US$1.81 billion) in revenue a year earlier. The main buyers were China (42 percent), Japan (25 percent), Europe (16 percent), South Korea (7 percent) and the United States (6 percent) of the total market share.