Location: South-East of Central Asia
Population: 7,211,884 estimated as of July 2008
Territory: 1431 thousand square kilometers
Currency: Somoni, first used in October, 2000
The state measures 700 km East to West and 350 km South to North. On the West and North, Tajikistan shares a border with Uzbekistan of 910 km and Kyrgystan of 630 km. On the south it borders Afghanistan of 1,030 km and on the East with China of 430 km.
Climate: The climate is generally continental.
Tajikistan has mineral resources containing nearly every element from the periodic table of elements providing the country with a unique amount of wealth. At this moment, over 400 mineral resources and ore deposits have been discovered, explored and are ready for development in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan is a nation possessing significant precious metal resource. Zarafshon is a joint Tajik-British venture that has been formed for extracting gold using modern technologies and mining deposits from Taror, Jilau and other areas in the Sughd region. In the Zarafshon valley, other gold deposits are located in Kum-Manor, Shahbas and Chore, that should continue to provide work for this gold mining enterprise. Darvoz, another Tajik-British joint venture works in Khatlon. This venture has been granted the exclusive right to developing gold mines in both South and Central Tajikistan by the government. According to information reported from the Republic of Tajikistan’s Academy of Science, there have been 38 gold deposits identified within the territory containing an estimated 429 tons of gold.
The world’s second largest silver deposit, the Koni Mansur, is located in northern Tajikistan. Currently 50 tons are silver are removed annually, a rate that can continue for at least the next 150 years.
Tajikistan also has the largest antimony resources of the CIS. The state’s largest deposit, Skalnoye, is estimated to contain half the silver ore in the CIS. If this deposit were developed intensively it could provide 800 tons of silver ore for the next 45 years providing the monopolist for extraction and processing of antimony the CIS. In addition to the mercury and antimony resources in the Sughd region, there are 214 other mineral deposits, including lead, zinc, bismuth copper, molybdenum, strontium, tungsten, iron, lead, gold, sliver, spat, oil and gas, coal, salt and others. The Uchakado deposit offers a unique content of gold, silver antimony, zinc and lead. The value of the metals in this deposit is estimated above $10 billion. This is the only deposit like this in the world.
Northern Tajikistan provides seemingly endless deposits of materials used for construction and decorations, including: granite, marble, limestone, volcanic tuff and mineral springs. Important coal deposits are found in Fon-Yaghnob and Kshtut-Zauran. These deposits can be processed into the least expensive gas and liquid fuels for approximately $120-$130 per ton. There enough coal deposits to last for the next 200 years.
A tungsten deposit, Maykhura, has been discovered 95 km from Dushanbe, in central Tajikistan. The ore here can provide profitable annual production of 150,000 tons.
Strontium, a rare metal, has been found deposited in the region of Khatlon. Strontium salts are used widely in metallurgy as well as the chemical, atomic and pharmaceutical industries. Overall, these resources, found in Chikultan, Daudyr and Chaltash can provide 180,000 tons of ore annually. Lead and zinc fields have been located in the same area. The largest, located in Baljuvon, is estimated to contain 1.2 million tons each of lead and zinc.
Salt is found in the southern regions of the republic. Billions of tons of this resource are found in the Samanchi, Tanobchi, Khoja-Sartez and Khoja-Mumin regions. In the severe climate of Badakhshon, the mountains contain deposits of silver, gold, tungsten, mica, copper and precious stones. The only boron deposit in the republic is found in Ak-Arkhar. Ores of datolit and danburit have been estimated at 7.4 million tons.
Mining and Minerals
Beneath the ever present mountains of Tajikistan are a wide variety of natural resources, most of which have not yet been exploited due to their geological depth or geographical location. For the size of Tajikistan, the region is considered blessed with deposits of silver and gold. There is estimated to be 60,000 tons of silver ore, with the largest, Koni Mansur estimated at 38,000 tons alone. More than 30 known deposits of gold are mapped and only a few have ever been prospected. Several coal deposits thought to be potentially important have also been identified but not yet exploited. Many of these mineral deposits will be suitable for less expensive open-pit mining, but are located in the mountainous regions where the prevailing weather conditions are often expensive and routes for transportation not yet developed or difficult. Currently, there is some coal being mined in the Yaghnob mine of the Sughd Region, but many other coal deposits have not yet been exploited.
Southeast of Dushanbe, in the Khovland district, a large deposit of antimony has been found. There is a tentative agreement with Japan to provide needed financing for this mine. An initial $2 million sum has been earmarked for a feasibility study and planning.
During the reign of the Soviets, Tajikistan was well known for the aluminum smelter. The Tursunzoda Aluminum Smelter is the largest enterprise in the region. TadAZ is located in the southwest of Tajikistan. It offers a capacity of 520,000 tons annually and accounts for 53% of the total exports. TadAZ is one of the largest smelters of this type in the world. Tajikistan earned $210 million in exports from 131,900 tons of aluminum exported. This number is less than a third of the 450,000 tons exported in 1990. Tajik aluminum is exported to Finland, the Netherlands, England, South Korea, Hungary, Belgium and Turkey. The largest NIS countries importing Tajik aluminum are Russia and Turkmenistan. It is estimated that 5,000 tons of aluminum were used domestically in production of household necessities such as kitchenware.
Tursunzoda consumes almost 40% of the total electrical output of the country, provides jobs for 12,000 workers and provides indirect support for over 100,000. Its capacity is 520,000 tons and it accounts for over 30% of the total exports. Tursunzoda planned to increase production to 346,000 tons by 2005. At the present, the only downstream industries include a foil and cable plant. Aluminum is one of the country’s two primary exports. The government is seeking foreign investors for both the aluminum plant and downstream projects. As different factions have attempted to assert control over the plant as well as its lucrative exports, there have been instances of fighting nearby.
The Tajikistan government has made the decision to include this plant in its privatization program. While the government plans to retain the controlling block of shares, the remaining assets may be sold to foreign investors. However, the plant has an estimated $120 million debt accumulated with foreign creditors which may make it less attractive to the foreign investors.
Silver and Gold
During the first eight months of 2000, Tajikistan produced 1.5 tons of gold, showing a 15% increase over the same time in 1999, with a value or $35.8 million. Tajikistan also has plans for the silver sector. It plans to establish a venture that included Indian companies in order to develop the Koni Mansur silver mine. These companies have plans to invest up to US$100 million for this deposit, which contains 53,000 tons of silver.
Tajikistan is only behind the USA and Russia in its production of hydroelectric power. Over 3/4 of the energy output in the country is from hydroelectric generation. The per capita energy consumption is the lowest of all states in the NIS. Tajikistan exported nearly 4,000 million kWh of electricity in 2000. However it imported 1,300 million more kWh of electricity than it imported. During years of drought, the importing of energy for Tajikistan will rise even more as drops in water levels at reservoirs serving these power stations reduces the amount of production allowed.
The Roghun dam will create another major power station when completed. Roghun is planned to increase the capacity by 3,600 megawatts, producing an average output of 13.3 billion kWh annually. Tajikistan’s government is anxious to find foreign financing in order to complete construction of this complex in order to meet the critical energy shortages that result in major power outages much of the time during the winter months and has slowed the operation of many of the country’s industries. Development of hydroelectric energy is essential for future economic growth due to the high need for importing natural gas and oil from its neighboring countries as well as the energy required to operate the TALCO aluminum smelter.
Tajikistan is also a significant consumer of natural gas, oil and coal and self-sufficient for less than 50% of its own energy needs. Uzbekistan provides over 70% of the country’s petroleum needs. Other CIS countries, including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provide an additional 27%. In 2000, 187,000 tons of petroleum products were imported along with 646,000 cubic meters of natural gas. Several gas fields have been identified for development and the government is seeking foreign investors for development. Talks are being held with Iran for further assistance with oil needs.