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South Korea Expands Critical Minerals Exploration in Kazakhstan

South Korea has strategically diversified its supply chains by securing deals with Kazakhstan, enabling South Korean companies to explore critical minerals in the Central Asian nation. This initiative coincides with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to Kazakhstan, following a similar trip to Turkmenistan earlier in the week.

A memorandum of understanding signed on June 12 focuses on critical minerals supply chains, granting South Korean firms the opportunity to explore lithium, chrome, uranium, and rare earth elements in Kazakhstan. This development is crucial for South Korea, which hosts major semiconductor producers and the world’s fifth-largest automaker, Hyundai Motor Group, currently advancing its electrification efforts.

Ensuring stable access to critical minerals is a strategic priority for South Korea, given its limited domestic resources and status as one of the world’s largest energy buyers. By forming partnerships for mineral exploration and development, South Korea aims to reduce supply chain risks and maintain a steady supply of essential materials for its industries.

Following his summit with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Astana, President Yoon underscored the significance of the agreement, highlighting Kazakhstan’s growth policy amid global crises and uncertainty. He noted the agreement’s importance in South Korea’s bid to become a global pivotal state.

Earlier in the week, during his visit to Turkmenistan, President Yoon facilitated agreements on energy resources development, potentially totaling around $6 billion. South Korean builder Hyundai Engineering signed deals with Turkmenistan’s state gas and chemical companies, including cooperation on the further development of the Galkynysh gas field and the restoration of a polymer plant in Turkmenistan.

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