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Displaying list for Kazakhstan

Asbestos Dichotomy in Alatau

Feb 2, 2024

The article cited below highlighted the government’s failure to deliver on development plans for a town called Alatau in southeastern Kazakhstan. Work on construction of the municipality was due to begin in 2009 and be completed in 2013. There is little evidence of how billions of tenges of public money was spent. Included in the schedule of works were three asbestos-cement projects to create 284 permanent jobs. The author of the article, who pointed out that the ILO and many national governments support an end to asbestos use, questioned the wisdom of investing in an outdated technology. See: Как проекты в новом казахстанском городе могут захлебнуться даже не начавшись [How projects in a new Kazakh city can be bogged down before they even begin].

Asbestos Production Data

Jun 5, 2023

According to Kazakhstan’s Bureau of National Statistics, asbestos production (66,500 tonnes (t)) grew by 21.9% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same quarter in 2022 (54,600t). Following recent trends, the majority of the asbestos (43,500t) was exported with only 4,900t (7.5%) being used at home. Data on Russian asbestos production levels has been difficult to access during the war on Ukraine. Historically Russia had been the world’s largest supplier of raw asbestos fiber, annually accounting for nearly 65% of all global production, with Kazakhstan producing ~20% of the world’s asbestos. See: В Казахстане увеличилось производство асбеста [Asbestos production increased in Kazakhstan].

Understanding and Preventing Cancer

Mar 23, 2023

In the Russian language article cited below, which appeared on a Kazakh news portal on March 20, 2023, oncologist Bakytzhan Ongarbaev, of the Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology, warned citizens of the dangers posed by environmental factors such as exposures to “asbestos, radiation, chemicals, air and water pollution…” Advice about how to avoid the consequences of obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption was also given. Kazakhstan is one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile (white) asbestos See: Семь главных факторов риска развития рака назвал казахстанский онколог [Kazakh oncologist names seven main risk factors for cancer development].

Asbestos Sector Flourishing

Jan 31, 2023

The “article” cited below reads like a press release from the Kostanay Minerals JSC, Kazakhstan’s sole asbestos producer. Amongst the facts reported were: total output from the company was 17.5 million tonnes (t) of white asbestos; annual production was 250,000t; 95% of all products were sent to Uzbekistan, India, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, China, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan. The imposition by Western countries of sanctions on Russian trade, led Kostanay to replace Russian ports with ports in Georgia and Lithuania. The fact that asbestos causes cancer was not mentioned. See: Костанайские карьеры: как добывают асбест на одном из крупнейших месторождений в мире [Kostanay quarries: mining one of the largest deposits of asbestos in the world].

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Apr 29, 2022

In a Russian language article uploaded on April 26, 2022, activities held by Kazakhstan’s only asbestos-producing company, Kostanay Minerals, to mark International Chrysotile (Asbestos) day on April 16, 2022 were reported. On that day a public rally was held to mobilize the support of local people for the asbestos industry, with company officials denouncing ban asbestos campaigners as “environmental extremists.” A representative of the Chrysotile trade union, which is supported by the company, parroted industry propaganda that “chrysotile is safe used under controlled conditions.” See: В Казахстане стартовала эстафета эко-субботников в защиту хризотила [Relay race of eco-subbotniks in defense of chrysotile has started in Kazakhstan].

An Asbestos Working Life

Feb 4, 2022

The interview cited below was with Balzhan Bisenkulova who works in the packaging department of Kostanai Minerals JSC, Kazakshtan’s only producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. Born in Russia, Mrs. Bisenkulova had worked at Orenburg Minerals, a Russian asbestos mining conglomerate, before her marriage. She has worked for Kostanai Minerals for 18 years – sewing bags for 13 years and operating machines which pack chrysotile asbestos fiber into 50 kilo bags for five years. Running two machines at the same time, she can produce 60 bags an hour. See: 50 мешков в час [50 bags per hour].

Increase in Asbestos Output

Nov 18, 2021

A Russian language article uploaded on November 16, 2021 reported on current developments at the Kazakh company Kostanay Minerals JSC, one of the world’s biggest asbestos producers. According to a company spokesman, Kostanay is now working at full capacity and is on track to produce 248,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber in 2021. Almost all (98%) of the company’s output is exported to countries in Central and Southeast Asia. Plans to ban asbestos use by Ukraine – a current importer of Kazakh asbestos – are being countered at the very highest levels via communications and negotiations of Kazkh ministries, intergovernmental agencies and the Kazakh embassy with their counterparts in Ukraine. See: Из пике на пик [From peak to peak].

Asbestos Industry Growth Reported

Oct 22, 2021

During an interview, Kazakhstan asbestos entrepreneur Erbol Nurkhozhaev reported that chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber production at the mine owned by Kostanay Minerals JSC was reaching capacity levels. He predicted that production in 2021 would reach 250,000 tons(t), up from 227,000t in 2020. The company plans to add another shift to the work roster so that by 2024 production could reach 350,000t/year. Negotiations in Ukraine and Turkey were, he said, ongoing despite the fact that the former country plans to ban asbestos and the later banned it in 2010. Kostanay will be targeting markets in Central and Southeast Asia where demand for asbestos is growing. See: «Мы вышли на предел мощности», - Ербол НУРХОЖАЕВ [“We have reached the limit of capacity,” – Erbol Nurkhozhaev].

Chrysotile Sales during the Pandemic

Jun 10, 2021

An upbeat article about the financial outlook of the sole producer of chrysotile asbestos fiber in Kazakhstan, Kostanay Minerals JSC, reported that the company had increased production and exports by, respectively, nearly 20% and 40% in the first quarter of 2021. Growth in usage from Asian countries and increases in the price of metal tiles and sheets were expected to create increased and sustained demand for chrysotile fiber and products. The company’s innovation in production techniques and the adoption of ecological and environmentally-friendly policies were extolled by Erbol Nurkhozhaev, Kostanay’s Chairman of the Board. See: Спрос на хризотил-асбест будет устойчивым в период коронакризиса [Chrysotile Asbestos Demand Will Be Sustainable During The Corona Crisis].

Nearly All Asbestos Exported!

May 17, 2021

Data released in an article on May 13, 2021, revealed that due to a collapse in the domestic chrysotile (white) asbestos market, nearly all the asbestos mined and processed in Kazakhstan by Kostanay Minerals JSC, the country’s sole asbestos fiber producer, is being exported; in other words, whilst 220,000 tonnes (t) of asbestos is exported annually, only 7,000-8,000t are used at home. In its efforts to diversify, the asbestos company is looking at the use of asbestos in fertilizers. See: Житикаринское градообразующее предприятие на волне ковидного кризиса показало рост по всем показателям [In the wake of the crisis, the Zhitikarinskoye city-forming enterprise showed growth in all respects].

Increase in Chrysotile Sales

Apr 21, 2021

Kazakhstan’s only asbestos producer Kostanay Minerals reported increased chrysotile fiber sales in the first quarter of 2021 from 50,100 tonnes in 2020 to 67,400 tonnes. Exports increased by 38.6% with shipments going to China, India, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan. Chrysotile asbestos-containing products are also sold in Kazakhstan. According to the company, production output in 2021 was predicted to reach 230,000 tonnes, 97% of which was for export. See: В первом квартале на треть вырос объем отгрузки хризотила и составил 67,4 тыс тонн [Demand for Kazakh chrysotile in the first quarter has grown significantly].

No toxic talc in Kazakhstan?

Feb 22, 2021

A commentary by toxicologist Dr. Lavrenty Aizvert from a Ministry of Health Department of the Government of Kazakhstan – one of the world’s biggest producers of chsyrotile (white) asbestos – about the safety of cosmetics decried the hazard posed by the use of talc-based baby powder saying there was no “serious research.” Citing research from the Dzhetygarinsky asbestos mining and processing plant and the Karaganda Institute of Occupational Hygiene and Occupational Diseases, he said that as “not a single case of lung cancer or mesothelium [sic] has been registered there for 50 years,” the harm posed by asbestos in baby powder was “not clear.” See: Правда и мифы о косметике [Truth and myths about cosmetics].

Asbestos Propaganda

Oct 19, 2020

The benevolence of Kostanay Minerals JSC – one of the world’s largest producers of chrysotile asbestos fiber – is the focus of a piece by Evgeniya Ermakova, referenced below. The company’s mine and milling operations are centered in and around the town of Zhitikar in the Kostanay region of Kazakhstan. Of the 220,000+ tons of asbestos fiber mined every year in Kazakhstan, 95% is exported to India, Uzbekistan, China, Ukraine and other countries. The company has close ties to the government. See: Бизнес – это прежде всего люди [Business is primarily about people]. (P.S. In 2016, it was revealed that operatives employed by Kazakh asbestos interests had spied on ban asbestos campaigners.)

“Invisible” Asbestos Taskmasters

Jul 16, 2020

A June 10, 2020 complaint to Google LLC by the Kusto Group, “a Kazakh multinational with extensive interests in the chrysotile [asbestos] industry” cited a total of 6 instances of copyright infringement by the Australian website: New Matilda and the website of the Colombian Asbestos Free Foundation. The subject of the complaints was the unapproved use on two occasions of a photograph of Daniel Kunin, Kusto’s Managing Director, and on four occasions of a photograph of Yerkin Tatishev, Kusto’s CEO. See: DMCA (Copyright) Complaint to Google.

Asbestos Alert!

Jan 6, 2020

An article on a website in Kazakhstan – the world’s second largest exporter of chrysotile (white) asbestos – which was uploaded on December 30, 2019 highlighted the human health risks posed by exposure to asbestos-containing products such as roofing material popular throughout the country; a picture of asbestos roofing illustrated the feature. The article quoted a leading Russian oncologist who had recently spoken out about the proven link between lung cancer and asbestos exposure. See: Вещь, которая есть в каждом доме и вызывает рак [The thing that is in every home and causes cancer].

An Unequal Trade

Aug 22, 2019

Just over 1% of the value of exports from Kazakhstan – the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile asbestos – to India in the first half of 2019 was for chrysotile asbestos. The bilateral trade is heavily weighted in Kazakhstan’s favour with its sales to India amounting to ~$623 million (twice as high as in 2018) and India’s exports worth just ~$136 million, 8.5% up on 2018. The imbalance in the trade and the fact that an acknowledged carcinogen such as asbestos is exchanged for tea and cell phones, warrants further scrutiny by civil society groups in India concerned about public and occupational health. See: Казахстан продает Индии нефть, а покупает чай и See: сотовые телефоны [Kazakhstan sells oil to India, and buys tea and cell phones].

Chrysotile Asbestos Offensive

Jun 3, 2019

A Russian language article on a Kazakhstan website detailed the triumph of asbestos forces at the May 2019 United Nations meeting of the Rotterdam Convention, boasting that the efforts of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Pakistan, Cuba, India and Iran had defeated UN plans to curtail the free global trade in chrysotile asbestos; Kazakhstan is one of the world’s leading chrysotile producers. The text asserted that the EU’s support for action on chrysotile was “dictated by economic interests…” See: Казахстанский хризотил вновь победил и выдержал испытание Роттердамской конвенцией [Kazakhstan chrysotile again won and stood the test of the Rotterdam Convention].

Asbestos Propaganda

Nov 22, 2018

In an interview with Erbol Nurhozhaev, chairman of the board of JSC “Kostanay minerals” – the only producer of chrysotile asbestos in Kazakhstan – Nurhozhaev is buoyant about the future and optimistic about plans to forestall UN action on imposing regulations on the global trade of chrysotile asbestos: “Next year they will again discuss the Rotterdam Convention [listing of] asbestos. Now we are working with the ministries on this issue. Karaganda scientists completed the research and concluded that with controlled use there is no harm from chrysotile asbestos. In this regard, we see the absolute support of the state.” See: «Мы будем расширять присутствие в Казахстане» [“We will expand our presence in Kazakhstan”].

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Nov 5, 2018

Last week, scientists from Kazakhstan presented evidence defending the safe use of chrysotile (asbestos) at an international conference in Karaganda, the country’s 4th biggest city. A resolution adopted at the meeting is being sent to six government ministries. Five thousand people are employed by the asbestos sector in Kazakhstan and the benefits of the industry are shared, speakers at this event alleged, by the 40,000 residents of Zhitikary City, where the mine is located, in the Kostanay region. It was claimed that no cases of asbestos-related diseases have been diagnosed in the country. See: Казахстанские ученые встали на защиту месторождения хризотил-асбеста [Kazakhstani scientists defend chrysotile asbestos].

Asbestos Industry Offensive

Oct 15, 2018

A Moscow online portal has uploaded news of a meeting that took place last month in Kazakhstan entitled: International Trade Union Conference on Chrysotile Asbestos and Safety. Representatives of the chrysotile industry from Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and other stakeholder countries were regaled with industry propaganda and “commissioned science” about the “safe use” of asbestos, despite advice from international agencies that the only “safe use” of asbestos is no use at all. See: Kazakhstan Hosted International Trade Union Conference on Chrysotile Asbestos.

Our Asbestos is Safe!

Jul 11, 2018

In an interview published in July 2018, the technical director of Kostanai minerals, the largest chrysotile (white) asbestos producer in Kazakhstan, has asserted that the company has rebounded from the crisis of 2015-16 and that production levels are growing as international asbestos consumption increases. The director was optimistic about export sales to China, India, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and domestic usage in a country in which 50% of all homes are roofed with asbestos-containing products. See: КАЗАХСТАНСКИЙ РЫНОК ХРИЗОТИЛА СТАБИЛЬНО РАЗВИВАЕТСЯ [Kazakhstan Chrysotile market is stable and developing].

Kazakhstan Urged to Ban Asbestos

May 3, 2018

UN News reported that the United Nations has called for all countries, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia, to ban asbestos on health grounds because of the highly hazardous threats posed by human exposures. A new study by the World Health Organization estimated that annual global health care costs associated with asbestos exposure are between $2.4-3.9 billion excluding additional costs for compensation, court-awarded damages and social security costs. See: Эксперты ООН обратились к Казахстану с призывом прекратить добычу асбеста [UN experts appeal to Kazakhstan to stop asbestos mining].

Pro-Asbestos Rally

Jun 12, 2017

Last week, a public rally in Jitikara, a village in the northwest of Kazakhstan, denounced the global campaign to ban asbestos. Kostani Minerals, one of the world’s largest asbestos mining companies, is a major employer in this area. Speakers at this event castigated the efforts of health and safety campaigners, international trade unionists and others who support an end to the slaughter caused by human exposures to asbestos, with threadbare and discredited rhetoric claiming that asbestos is a “natural and cheap material” which is safe to use. See: Работники хризотиловой отрасли в Казахстане встали на защиту асбеста [Chrysotile workers in Kazakhstan support asbestos protection].

Asbestos Disconnect!

May 9, 2017

A text published today (May 9) on the website of a Kazakhstan news source delineated the discrepancy between the pro-asbestos policies of East European vested interests and the stance of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the UN’s Rotterdam Convention, all of whom call for regulations to be imposed on the global trade of chrysotile asbestos. See: Пока ВОЗ предупреждает о риске рака от хризотилового асбеста, Кыргызстан и Казахстан отстаивают право на его использование [While WHO warns of the risk of cancer from chrysotile asbestos, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan defend the right to use it].

Asbestos Pride in Kazakhstan

Feb 10, 2016

In a newspaper report issued on February 8, 2016, a city in the Kostanay area in northern Kazakhstan boasted that it was on course to become a global “asbestos” champion with exported chrysotile (white asbestos) fiber being shipped to India, Thailand and elsewhere. While extolling the virtues of asbestos and calling for enterprises to expand their consumption, the company spokesman also bemoaned a drop in output and the economic necessity of reducing production costs. Steps are, he said, being taken to streamline mining and processing operations. See: В Костанайской области асбестовое производство метит в мировые чемпионы [Kostanay region aims to be asbestos production world champions].

Raising Asbestos Awareness

Jun 9, 2010

On June 11, a seminar will be held to address the dangers posed by asbestos contamination in Kazakhstan. A report based on research conducted by local NGOs, working with European Union partners, will be distributed at the meeting; it highlights the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos in construction materials and the lack of any controls on dumping of asbestos-containing construction waste. Samples of chrysotile asbestos obtained locally and from Ukraine and Romania which were analyzed by a German laboratory confirm that populations in these countries are routinely being exposed to carcinogenic material.