Australian-based mineral sands miner and explorer Iluka Resources is set to begin exploration in Kazakhstan. It will initially focus on three sites in the Kostanai, North Kazakhstan and Akmola regions, and plans to conduct an airborne geophysical survey this month.

Iluka established an exploration office in the large Central Asian nation during the June quarter and the head of this office, Alison Morley, together with the Kazakh Minister for Investment and Development Asset Issekeshev, recently announced the start of exploration.

In a statement Kazgeologiya information department said: “The parties discussed a project concerning the realization of national geological studies on three sites. The project is going to be implemented in the frameworks of the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation in the Field of Geological Study and Exploration.”

Minister Issekeshev said exploration work was going to be one of the main priorities in the industrial policy and high-tech services of the country in coming years. “Raw materials are one of the main components of the well-functioning industry in the country, thus the state pursues comprehensive work in this field, including the liberalization of legislation based on the Australian experience,” he explained. It is also planned to present at least 100 geological objects at an auction by the end of the year.

Alison Morley thanked the Kazakh ministry for supporting the project and reported on the company’s activities in Kazakhstan over the past year, including the beginning of exploration work on the above-mentioned sites.

Iluka will cover all expenditures concerning the geological studies and further exploration. In case of a commercial interest, the company may also consider constructing a mine and a processing factory.

The company, founded in 1954 in Perth, Australia, conducts exploration, mining, processing, project development and marketing of mineral sands products. It is also one of the biggest producers of zircon and high-quality titanium dioxide products in the world.

Meantime, Iluka’s focus at Puttalam project in Sri Lanka remains on negotiations with government regarding legal and investment terms for the development as well as on a scoping study on the PQ deposit. Iluka has defined mineral sand resources within the Puttalam District of the North Western Province.

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