During the heating season 2022-2023, the Ministry of Investment and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan made significant efforts to prevent the disruption of the shipment of municipal coal to the domestic market and to provide coal mining companies with rail transport.
MIIR RK established a headquarters for the heating season, which included representatives of local executive bodies, coal mining companies and AGMP. On a daily basis, the headquarters site monitored the provision of the population with municipal coal, control of the timely provision of railway wagons to coal mining companies and work to expand the capacity of the main railway network.
Thanks to the well-coordinated work of the headquarters during the heating season of 2022-2023, it was possible to avoid an acute shortage of domestic coal in the domestic market. It should be noted that in the current heating season there was an increased demand for coal from the population and energy producing companies, which significantly exceeded forecasts. Thus, at the end of 2022, coal consumption in the domestic market of Kazakhstan amounted to about 81.4 million tons of coal, which is 5.7% more compared to 2021.
At the same time, according to the results of 2022, 11.03 million tons of coal were shipped for household needs of the population, which is 3.1% more than in 2021.
Increased demand for coal was associated with severe weather conditions, limited regional access to gas (especially in the northern and central parts of Kazakhstan) and rising energy consumption in Kazakhstan.
The situation was also aggravated by cases of resale of municipal coal, intended to meet the needs of the population, to foreign markets at high prices. It should be noted that municipal coal in the domestic market of Kazakhstan is sold at socially acceptable prices – an average of 15-20 thousand tenge per ton, while in foreign markets the price of coal can be higher by 700-900%.
The resale of coal was carried out by companies that do not mine and enrich coal, represented by construction, food and other companies.
To prevent the risk of uncontrolled export of coal from Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2022 introduced a ban on the export of relevant products from the territory of Kazakhstan by road.
However, the introduction of a ban on the export of coal by road stimulated dealers to switch to the export of the corresponding products by rail. According to the customs authorities and the relevant agencies of the Russian Federation, during the period of the ban on the export of coal by road, there was an increase in cases of shipment of coal from Kazakhstan by non-core organizations represented by construction, greenhouse and food organizations, which confirms the existence of the fact of resale of coal. For example, during 2022, 70,630 tons of hard coal were exported from stations close to the open-cast mine of Shubarkol Komir JSC by companies that are not engaged in coal mining and processing (and do not have direct contracts with the producer).
Taking into account the significance of the problem and in order to prevent the risks of disrupting the heating season, the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan is currently considering the issue of introducing a ban on the export of coal by rail from Kazakhstan for persons who do not mine and enrich coal.
It should be noted that in order to meet the increased demand of the population in the current heating season, coal mining companies exceeded their plans for the supply of municipal coal to the domestic market.
For example, at the end of 2022, Shubarkol Komir JSC shipped 4.478 million tons of municipal coal, which is 6% more than in 2021. Karazhyra JSC shipped about 2,450 thousand tons of coal, which is 5.3% more than in 2021. At the end of 2022, Maikuben-West JSC shipped 905 thousand tons of coal, which is 7.3% more than in 2021.
Shubarkol Komir JSC felt a significant burden on production capacities due to the growth in demand for municipal coal. For example, Shubarkol Komir JSC shipped coal in several regions of the republic in excess of plans. In the period from June to August 2022, 29.5 thousand tons of municipal coal were shipped to Almaty, which is 7 thousand tons more than the volume shipped for the same period in 2021. In the period of July-November, 137.8 thousand tons were shipped to Kostanay region, which is 56.8 thousand tons more than the volume shipped for the same period in 2021. In 2022, 730 thousand tons were shipped to the Karaganda region, which is 101.6 thousand tons more than in 2021.
At the end of 2022, the volume of coal production amounted to 113.9 million tons, which is 2% higher compared to 2021 (for 2021 – 111.7 million tons). Last year, coal exports were at the level of 32.5 million tons.