KAZAKHSTAN ENVIRONMENT ISSUES
Kazakhstan lies in the center of the European and Asian continents, and
is approximately equidistant from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. More
than a quarter of our land consists of a portion of the gentle steppes
that stretch from central Europe to Siberia. The rest of the republic reflects
the beauty of forests, mountains, 11,000 rivers and more than 7,000 lakes
and reservoirs. Our natural landscape is enhanced by thousands of plantand animal varieties found from the northern forest steppes to the high southern mountains.
Situated between two quite different natural and climatic zones (Central Asia and Siberia), Kazakhstan is the region where the cold air masses from the north meet with the hot winds from the south. That is why Kazakhstan has the sharp continental climate. It is characterized by irregular distributions of precipitation in its different areas. In separate years spring stretches from the south to the north during 1,5 - 2 months (when it is spring sowing in the south, the north area is covered with snow and the blizzards storm frequently).
The land of Kazakhstan is rich in different soils. The greater part of forest-steppe zone are chernozems which turn to dark-chestnut, light-chestnut and brown soils in the south. There are grey-soil lands in the deserts and semideserts which are replaced by the mountain soils.
Crossing the territory of Kazakhstan from north to south one can get into different climatic zones, so as various areas with its own flora and fauna (one can meet the north representative - Russian birch, the plant of desert - saxaul and the tree of the south countries - walnut.
The desert of Kazakhstan is the arid area. The climate of that area is characterized by the extreme rare rains and high temperature in summer, severe and intensely cold weather in winter. There are often winds which cause sandy storms. The air is extremely dry and the temperature in summer is sharply varies even during twenty-four hours.
In the south and south-east of Kazakhstan the sands reach the mountains, i.e. the ridges of Tien Shan mountain system, which stretches for 2400 km and the main part of which covers our territory. The main ridges are: Barlykskiy, Dzhungarskiy Ala-Tau, Zailiiskiy Ala-Tau, Talasskiy Ala-Tau and Ketmenskiy (the highest point of the high mountain ranges is Peak Han-Tengri is 6992 metres high over the sea level). The South Altai reaches Kazakhstan in the east. The whole mountain system of Kazakhstan is rich for its mineral springs. In future the health - resorts and sanatorium's will develop in Kazakhstan. The numerous mountain glaciers supply the rivers of Kazakhstan area.
There are many rivers and vast reservoirs. In the west and south - west of the territory nearly from the mouth of the great Russian river Volga to the gulf of Kara-Bogas-Gol in Turkmenistan the lands of Kazakhstan are washed by the largest in the world Caspian Sea for a distance of over 2340 kilometres. The river Ural with its tributaries lick and Emba flow to the Caspian Sea. From 1978, the level of the Caspian Sea increases with the average speed of 13 - 14 cm per year. For that period the level of the sea raised on 2,5 metres, as the result, the coast line moved forward on 20-40 kilometres. According the scientists prognosis the rise of the level of the Caspian Sea will continue during 25 - 30 years. East of the Caspian, in the sands, there is another lake - third in the world in the nearest past - Aral Sea. Till the middle of thirties of our century the surface of this lake was 65 thousand square kilometres (now the surface of the lake is a half of above mentioned). The main arteries of the unsalted water which flow to the Aral Sea are the rivers: Amu Darya and Syr Darya. In sixties and eighties the flow was sharply decreased. The waters of such big rivers of Central Asia and Kazakhstan as: Chu, Talas and Sary-Su fully stopped to fill the Aral and that is the result of the present mournful situation. There is one more large lake in the sands of Central Kazakhstan - lake Balkhash. The surface of it is 18,2 thousand square kilometres. Speaking about other large lakes of the republic, one can mention: lake Zaisan which situated in the east, lake Alakol in the south-east, lake Tengiz in the centre of Kazakhstan. There are nearly 7 thousand natural lakes. The total area of the water surface is more than 45 thousand square kilometres.
The largest rivers of Kazakhstan are: Irtysh, the length of which is 4248 kilometres and in Kazakhstan is over 1700 kilometres, Ishim (2450 and 1400 kilometres). Ural (2428 and 1082 kilometres), Syr Darya (2219 and 1400 kilometres). Ili (1001 and 815 kilometres), Chu (I 186 and 800 kilometres), Tobol (I 191 and 800 kilometres), Nura (all 978 kilometres are on the territory of Kazakhstan).
Kazakhstan is famous for its uncalculated mineral wealth. The scientists of the leading countries consider Kazakhstan to be on the six place in world, though this advantage is not used effectively. The cost of the investigated depths is 10 trillion US dollars.
Kazakhstan has enormous rich natural resources. In short, 99 elements among 110 elements of the Mendeleev periodic system are found in the depths of Kazakhstan. For the present time 60 elements are extracted and used. The estimation of Dr. Daniel Tine, the specialist in the natural resources and energy from Massachusetts Technological Institute (USA), shows that in 1991, in the period of disintegration of the USSR, 90% of the chromium ore, 26% of cooper, 33% of lead and zinc, 38% of tungsten remain on the territory of Kazakhstan. In the former USSR the share of Kazakhstan in the turnings of barytes were 82%, phosphorites - 65%, molybdenum 29%, bauxites 22%, asbestos - 20%, manganese - 1«%, coal -12%, etc. Kazakhstan is one of the richest countries in oil, gas, titanium, magnesium, tin, uranium, gold and other non-ferrous metals turnings. Now, Kazakhstan is one of the outstanding producers of tungsten and holds the first place in the world, the second place in chromium and phosphorous ores, the fourth - in lead and molybdenum, the eighth in iron ore turnings (16,6 mid, tons) after Brasil, Australia, Canada, USA, India, Russia and Ukraine. Now, it is not a secret that USA, the countries of West Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Japan and China are interested in Kazakhstan. That is because of high potential of the republic in the strategic raw resources, first of all, one can indicate oil and gas deposits.
There are 14 perspective basins on the territory of Kazakhstan. Only 160 deposits of gas and oil with the turnings of 2,7 mid, tons are investigated now. However, not all the deposits and basins are operated. In the case of their capable usage and exploitation Kazakhstan with the oil potential can be among Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Arab Emirates.
The latest pictures from cosmos also as the surface investigations show that the operated oil deposits on the bank of the Caspian Sea in the West Kazakhstan - Tengiz, Prorva, Kalamkas, Karazhanbas are only the "outskirts" of the enormous oil deposit, the core of which lies in the north part of the Caspian Sea, where the total quantities of the turnings are 3-3,5 mid, tons of oil and 2-2,5 trillion cu.metres of gas.
So, taking into account the investigated and supposed surface turnings, the expert turnings of oil are more than 6,1 mid, tons, the turnings of gas are ĀEtrillion cubic metres. In 1991, it was the biggest extraction of oil (26,6 min, tons) and of gas (8,2 mld .cu.metres). Now, the internal need of the republic in oil is 18 - 20 mln. tons, 500 thousand tons of lubricants per year, 16 - 18 mid. cu. metres of gas. There are three oil-processing plants in Kazakhstan with not big capacity; in Atyrau (it was built in 1945) with the capacity of 5,2 min, tons per year, in Pavlodar ( the capacity is 8 min, tons) and in Shymkent (capacity is 6,2 min. tons) which were built in seventies. The Pavlodar plant fully uses the raw oil. Shymkent plant uses more than half of the production of its petroleum products from Siberia (Russia). The raw oil is transported by the pipeline. The important part of raw oil which is produced in Kazakhstan is transported to Russia. The above mentioned plants produce the high-octane petrols, electrode coke, oil - bitumen, sulphur. The output of light petroleum products is 36 - 37%, the intensity of oil processing is only 48 - 50%.
"Shevron" is one of the foreign companies which appeared in North Precaspian region in 1992. The Joint Venture "Tengizshevronoil" was created with Kazakhstan and has the intentions to invest 20 mid. US dollars to the gigantic investment projects, according which, to 2010, 36 min, tons of oil per year of Tengiz deposit will be extracted. The similar large - scale projects are planned with famous world - known big investors as: "British gas" "Agip", "Elf", etc. These companies work on the construction and extention of the industrial infrastructure, in particular, the new pipelines, railway main lines. Widening the capacity of the Caspian ports will allow Kazakhstan in the nearest future to extract no less than 70 million tons of oil (taking into account the surface extraction and the extraction from the shelf of the Caspian Sea).
Kazakhstan has the considerable part of the world turnings of cooper, polymetallic ores, nickel, tungsten, molybdenum, and another rare metals and rare earths. Now Kazakhstan holds one of the leading places in the world in iron ore, manganese and chromite ore reserves.
Now, in Kazakhstan nearly 300 of the huge deposits of gold are forecasted; 173 of which are detailed investigated. Some of them can supply with the diamonds of fine quality. The serious investments in some years can help Kazakhstan to extract 100 tons of gold per year, but now, only 1% of the underground turnings are extracted, that holds Kazakhstan on the six place in the world. Kazakhstan has more than 100 deposits of coal. The largest are: the Ekibastuz deposit which differs by the high capacity of the brown coal stratums and Karaganda coal - basin with the turnings of more than 50 mid, tons of coke coal. During the best years, only 131 min, tons of coal were extracted.
Kazakhstan is rich in the chemical raw material deposits. There are rich deposits of potassium salts, borates, bromine combinations, sulphates, phosphorites and the different raw materials for the varnish and paint industry. The enormous amounts of sulphur - ore in the polymetallic ores give the possibility to produce sulphuric acid and another chemical products which are very important for the economy. There are absolute possibilities for the production nearly of all kinds of the products of oil and chemical synthesis (especially ethylene, polypropilene, rubber), synthetic detergents and soap, food microbiological proteins, chemical fibres and threads, synthetic resin, plastic and cement.
Kazakhstan has rich resources of raw materials for glass and china and pottery industries. The most rare natural precious stones. various building and facing decorative materials lie in the depths and mountains of Kazakhstan. Mineral, medical, industrial and thermal waters can be mentioned as the countless wealth of Kazakhstan Land, but now they are not widely used.