Kazakhstan’s gold mining boom has come to a halt with a government crackdown on corruption and the withdrawal of foreign miners from the country.
The country’s gold industry has grown by about 50% over the past five years, and has become one of the most profitable in the world, but the mining ban has been criticised by some as a sign of the country’s declining economic future.
The government says the move will create jobs and boost the economy, and the move is seen by analysts as an attempt to end an industry that is believed to generate about $2bn (£1.7bn) annually in revenue.
In January, Kazakhstan’s cabinet announced that it would no longer allow foreign mining firms to operate in the country, but that ban was lifted on April 16.
Kazakhstan’s central bank also announced on Monday that it will allow foreign companies to continue operating in the industry.
Mining and other industries in Kazakhstan are already under pressure as foreign firms have struggled to find work in the wake of the oil price drop, with many analysts suggesting that the mining boom could be in trouble.
The ban on foreign mining will not affect foreign companies who have previously been able to import gold from neighbouring Kazakhstan, such as the United States, Russia, Russia’s Central Asian neighbours Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and South Korea.
Foreign companies were allowed to import up to 50 tonnes of gold in 2013, but this has now been scaled back to only 50 tonnes.