Exploration and mining of minerals

Since 1930th, the lands allocated later for Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site were considered as promising in terms of their mineral resources. There were revealed available there tungsten, beryllium, iron, and fluorite. When nuclear testing began there, any geological prospecting for commercial mining stopped. Upon closure of SNTS, its huge lands considered till 1991 as a military range, again attracted attention as a reserve of mineral resources. According to modern geological prospecting, there are areas and fields promising for gold, copper- porphyry (copper, molybdenum, gold), rear earth (tungsten, molybdenum) ore deposits and for coal mining. In the future, poorly studied territory of SNTS, if supported by investments, may become in Kazakhstan the most important ground for mining.

Coal field Karazhyra is located near to Balapan testing ground in the South-Eastern part of SNTS. Total area of the field comprises 2574.7 hectares with confirmed coal deposit of 1.2 bln tons. 3 mln tons of coal are produced there each year. The field is developed by open mining with partial drilling and blasting operations used for hoeing. Stripping rocks are transported to outer and inner terraces. Coal is delivered by railroad to Degelen railroad station or directly to customers by trucks.
Fluorite ore field Karadjal is located at Degelen mountain range. The field is the only one available in Kazakhstan – so, previously demand for this mineral was covered by import. The ore is processed in Kurchatov city at specially constructed for this purpose concentrating mill commissioned in 2007.
Copper and molybdenum ore field Shorskoye is located next to the testing ground Balapan at former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. Its area covers 550 hectares. The field is developed by open method with drilling and blasting operations used for hoeing. Stripping rocks are transported to outer and inner terraces.

Also, gold mining at Naimanjal field is in progress at Semipalatinsk test site along with geological prospecting at gold fields Baltemir and Koskusuk there; table salt is produced at Zhaksytuz lake and sand-gravel mix is produced at fields Kovylnoye and Pridorojnoye.