Silicon Production Grows in Karatal District

ALMATY REGION – The Kaz Silicon Plant, which reopened in April 2012, is planning to increase its production volume of high-quality refined silicon up to 10,000 tons per year. In Bastobe village, the plant processes gangue quartz mined at the nearby Sarykol field. According to experts, the deposits of this raw material equal about 1.7 million tons and will be enough for the plant’s work for more than 50 years.

Silicon is an important semiconductor and the main raw material used in manufacturing photovoltaic panels (solar panels). Solar panels have great potential for growth: their share of world electricity production is expected to reach up to 30 percent by 2040.

In October 2011, the plant became a subsidiary of the Kazatomprom National Company and a major participant in the KazPV project aimed at establishing a fully integrated renewable energy production line. According to the general director of Kaz Silicon LLP, Danel Skakov, the refined silicon is sent to Astana for further processing, where at the end of 2012 a plant was launched to produce photovoltaic modules for Astana Solar LLP. The design capacity of Kazakhstan’s first solar wafers is 50 MW with an increase up to 100 MW planned for the future.

The plant has an automated process control system, which allows it to produce an additional output of mikrosilica (silica fume) of up to 2,000 tons per year. This material is used in dry mortar, ceramic plates, tiles and refractory masses. Skakov says that the gas treatment facilities and high-tech stoves meet European standards and do not produce harmful emissions. This is an important issue, as residents of Bastobe district remember well how in 2006 the district centre was covered with suffocating smog when Kaz Silicon first began production. The company is planning to export the output to Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the United States and Germany.