EITI Week in Astana, Day 1

EITI Board members visit the biggest open pit gold mine in Central Asia – Vasilkovka

The week of the first ever Board meeting in Central Asia, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan started with a field trip of the EITI Board to the largest open-pit gold deposit in Kazakhstan - Vasilkovka. The mine is located 347 km away from Astana. Operated by JSC Altyntau-Kokshetau, whose parent company is Glencore, the gold mine contributes to the lives of the local citizens through employment and various social programmes. Following the demonstration of the mining activities at the Altyntau-Kokshetau factory, the Board members and observers met representatives of the local workers’ union, town mayor and the management of the company. 

Extracting gold at Vasilkovka with detonated charges. 

Seventy percent of the local population is employed at the mine and the social payments directed at the development of the Akmolinskaya region play an integral part in town politics. The local infrastructure has been developed in the last couple of years – winter and summer sport complexes, arts centers, hospital, kindergarten and housing was built as part of the social programmes developed by the company.

National and local TV channels used the opportunity to interview the EITI Board representatives.

Progress on beneficial ownership

The specifics of the EITI implementation in Kazakhstan were discussed amongst the Board delegation and local stakeholders. International EITI stakeholders were informed that amendments to the Subsoil Code including a mandatory clause on beneficial ownership disclosure are being discussed in detail at the government roundtable on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, representatives of the International Secretariat and government agencies gathered at the Ministry of Investments and Development for an open debate, discussing practical steps, benefits and challenges that are laying ahead of the beneficial ownership disclosure in Kazakhstan. The meeting opened with a presentation by the National Coordinator Ruslan Baimishev to the Government of Kazakhstan and the EITI International Secretariat on the beneficial ownership practices and ambitions of Kazakhstan in furthering its disclosure. “Transparency of the beneficial owners is a global trend and we want to be at the forefront. This is not simply a matter of being compliant with a certain requirement of the EITI Standard, through this we want to achieve our national priorities,” said Ruslan and opened the floor for discussion. 

The great interest and commitment from the Kazakh government to disclose beneficial owners points to the ongoing commitment of the Kazakh government to lead the transparency agenda in Central Asia. That being said, some of the challenges and questions of beneficial ownership disclosure were raised with the representatives of the EITI International Secretariat. EITI Head, Jonas Moberg, shared global EITI practices encouraging the government to collaborate with neighbouring countries that have already taken steps in disclosing beneficial ownership data. Kyrgyz Republic, Ukraine and the United Kingdom have gone through a few years of work on beneficial ownership through taking part in the EITI beneficial ownership pilot, disclosing beneficial ownership data through online registries. He noted that the international gathering of the EITI here in Astana this week was a great opportunity for Kazakh stakeholders to make progress on beneficial ownership. The members of the Kazakh EITI will be able to showcase their efforts at the EITI National Conference on 27 October.

Visit us tomorrow to see the overview of Day 2 of the EITI week in Astana.

Greetings from frosty Kazakhstan,

EITI International Secretariat