Mineral and Raw Resources
The efficient use of the mineral raw material potential has provided, and will continue to provide, industrial progress in all spheres of the social and economic development of the country. Existing mineral resources of Turkmenistan, in terms of both their quality and quantity, satisfy the increasing demand in the economy for natural raw materials and for processed products. They make it possible to develop both traditional and new sectors of the economy. Many kinds of mineral resources, in addition to fuel-energy reserves, can be exported.
Turkmenistan has the fourth largest reserve of natural gas in the world. It also has 63.6 percent of the total reserves of oil in Central Asia. Upon independence in 1991, Turkmenistan, with complete authority over its hydro-carbon reserves, applied more active efforts to attract foreign investors as a means of accelerating economic development, as an extraction was reduced after 1990, because of the absence of financial possibilities of the former buyer - the CIS countries.
The beginning of the new oil era of Turkmenistan was the proclamation in 1993 of the "Conception of oil and gas development through 2020". The proclamation includes a schedule for the exploitation of deposits in the main areas of oil and gas extraction. The proclamation also plans a reconstruction of the oil refineries in Turkmenbashy and Charzshou to increase production capacity from 12 million tons per year to 18 million tons. A great deal of attention in the proclamation is given to the issue of exports of crude oil, oil products and natural gas. Three new pipeline routes are under consideration (to the Persian Gulf, Black Sea and the Mediterranean) and five different routes for gas pipelines (to Europe, Pakistan and Japan) are also being considered for construction.
Due to its substantial reserves of industrial strontium, Turkmenistan is a potential supplier, not only to the CIS countries, but to the rest of the world as well. Realization of this potential requires the development of industrial production of celestine concentrate and carbonic acid strontium at the Arik deposit site. Carbonic acid strontium is used in the production of tubes for color televisions and in the production of ferro-magnetic and luminous materials, and in high quality steel.
Turkmenistan will consider establishing complex processing of the industrial iodine and bromine waters to produce iodine and other useful elements that are currently dumped in industrial sewerage. Moreover, it is necessary to organize the production of scarce products such as calcium bromide, hexa-bromidic benzene and other haloid organic derivatives that are used in the processes of oil chemical production at the Nebitdag and Cheleken plants (Balkan velayat).
There is a need to develop a new chemical plant to produce calcium soda from limestone and common rock salt of the Gaurdak deposit (Gaurdak variant); common salt of the Koolin deposit and the Airport limestone deposit (Turkmenbashy variant); and sodium sulfate and Begdash limestone (Begdash variant). The quality of the common salt of Turkmenistan is equal to the highest standards of consumers. Reconstruction of the Guvlyduz plant, with an annual production capacity of 25,000 tons of iodine product, will meet domestic demand. By increasing the salt production capacity in Gaurdak that meets technical extraction and processing standards, sufficient edible salt will be produced to export to traditional markets in the CIS countries and abroad.
The bentonite of Turkmenistan is unique in its quality and is in great demand in CIS countries and has a potential of becoming a competitive export ithem. Processing the raw material into bentonite powder increases its value. Bentonite powder is used as a thickener for drilling solutions and as a plastic filler. Acid-activated bentonite is used for refining vegetable oil, wines, and recycling lubricating oil.
Ozokerite (fossil wax) attracts particular attention on world markets because of its limited supply and because the demand for it is not only in technical processes but also in the medical and cosmetics industries. Therefore, plans exist to re-start the extraction and processing of ozokerite in Cheleken.
Deposits of onyx and other types of natural stone form the basis for the development of stone processing and the production of decorative coating materials and consumer goods. Furthermore, special attention is paid to production for the domestic market of non-traditional types of insulation and filter materials, such as facing and ceramic tile and various gypsum materials from mineral fibers and natural dye stuffs.
Hence, efficient processing of raw materials will make it possible to satisfy domestic demand, increase the range of export goods and create new jobs. In this way, the well-being of the population will be further improved.
Sources of Information:
Human Development. Turkmenistan. 1995, 1996.
Data of the Institute of Statistics and Forecasting of Turkmenistan.