This year the forum will celebrate its tenth anniversary. When we first conceived the concept of the MINEX Central Asia Forum in 2009, we noticed that attitudes to resource extraction in Kazakhstan had started evolving rapidly, and the long-term process of creating a world-class mining sector had begun. It was very interesting for us to participate in this process not as external observers, but as direct participants and often as associates.

Beyond the creation of a new legislative framework, both the state and industry have the broader challenge of establishing a foundation for the sustainable development of the mining sector. Long-term investment in mining projects ought to yield healthy dividends. Otherwise, investors will avoid the Kazakh market.

One of the main advantages of Kazakhstan is its enormous underdeveloped mineral resources. For the sector to develop efficiently, it is necessary to invest considerable resources in geological exploration. In countries with a well-developed financial infrastructure, like Australia, Canada, and the countries of South America, the finances for geological exploration are raised in the capital markets. In Kazakhstan, the process of developing a financial platform for the mining sector has commenced relatively recently. We want to believe that with the IPO of Kazatomprom on the Stock Exchanges of London and Astana, this process will begin to accelerate.

For our part, as part of the forum, we plan to continue to conduct the MineVenture competition, for which we will assemble a jury of financiers, investors and companies interested in supporting mining projects. In previous rounds of the competition, we succeeded in putting together a good jury investment panel. But signing up really interesting investment projects still remains a challenge. The vast majority of subsoil users holding exploration licenses prefer to remain in the shadows. Without changes to the mindset of subsoil users and without genuine junior mining success stories, there will be only a trickle of investment and not the flood envisaged by the authors of the Subsoil Use Code. So, there is plenty of work and challenges remaining for us at the forthcoming Forum in Astana.

In the modern world, technology facilitating the automation of production, the reduction of risk and the increase in efficiency are playing an ever-greater role. But technology on its own is not enough. Enterprises can adopt the most contemporary technologies available, but without people prepared to work in a new way, there can be no improvements to quality. It is necessary to create an environment that will stimulate the pursuit of self-improvement and the ability to solve unconventional problems collectively. For this reason, besides fostering dialogue between business and government, last year, with support from Kazzinc and Polymetal, we launched the MineTech University competition in which teams from Nazarbayev University and the Kazakh British Technical University participated. In 2019, we anticipate an increase in the number of participants from both mining sector companies and the universities.

We are always open to new ideas that can make the forum more topical, relevant and productive. In our humble opinion, the success of the Forum reflects the success of the industry. We live and work by the win-win principle. To those who share our vision, we are always ready for partnership.

Arthur Poliakov
Chairman, MINEX Forum Secretariat