AUSTRALIAN mineral sands miner Iluka Resources has started exploration in Kazakhstan and is initially focusing on three sites in the Kostanai, North Kazakhstan and Akmola regions. One of the first tasks was an airborne geophysical survey.

Iluka established an exploration office earlier this year 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 would be a main priority in the industrial policy and high-tech services of the country. “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.” 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.

Iluka will cover all expenditure 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, 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 the Puttalam project in Sri Lanka remains on government negotiations regarding legal and investment terms 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 and is in the early stages of evaluating these resources for potential development of a conventional mineral sands mining and processing operation.

The project, if approved by authorities and proceeded with, can be expected to contribute economically and socially to Sri Lanka, including direct and indirect employment; introduction of new mining, processing and industrial technology, as well as high value export products generating material foreign exchange revenues.

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