Enhancing Water Resources Management: Kazakhstan-Brazil Collaborative Efforts in Hydrogeology 

ASTANA — Given Kazakhstan’s significant mining activity which requires substantial environmental data and water resources management, a Brazilian consulting company has expanded its operations in Kazakhstan, offering hydrogeology and environmental services. Nilson Guiguer, the CEO of Water Services and Technologies and Yernat Assenov, the director of Water Services and Technologies in Kazakhstan, spoke about the company’s core activities, sustainability challenges and collaborative efforts underway between Brazil and Kazakhstan in an interview with The Astana Times.  

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Water Services and Technologies has been serving clients in Kazakhstan since 2011, providing services to clients such as KazMinerals and Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) since 2011, and recently has opened a branch that has been operating for a year. The company focuses on groundwater resource assessment and management, as well as addressing environmental impacts associated with water usage. 

According to Guiguer, the decision to expand into Kazakhstan was driven by several key factors including water availability, regulatory environment, business opportunities and the country’s strategic geographical location bridging Asia and Europe, thus serving as a gateway to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) market.

During the first year, establishing the company’s presence in the country was their primary goal. Water Services and Technologies chose the mining sector as the entry point due to their expertise and the sector’s intrinsic link with water. 

“Mining operations require substantial water management, whether for extraction processes or mitigating environmental impacts. Given Kazakhstan’s significant mining activity, it was a logical choice,” added Guiguer.

Through these efforts, the company visited major mining companies across the country, securing several contracts and leading to ongoing projects with major mining firms. The company is also expanding its footprint beyond Kazakhstan, with active projects and conversations in Uzbekistan and Russia. 

Expansion and ongoing hydrogeological projects

Nilson Guiguer, CEO of Water Services and Technologies. Photo credit: waterservicestech.com.

Guiguer highlighted three major projects including Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), Altyn Almas company with a full geological, mining and gold processing cycle, and East Mining Company (EMCO). 

“ERG has 14 units in Kazakhstan, we are assisting them with environmental data management to monitor the environmental data in their facilities and help achieve their sustainability goals. ERG also has significant mining operations in Brazil. We hope our presence in Kazakhstan will lead to further projects with them,” said Guiguer. 

Meanwhile, for Altyn Almas, the company is studying its water resources strategies, primarily focusing on optimizing mine dewatering for their open pits and underground mines. They aim to minimize costs and potential environmental impacts by designing more efficient systems

The EMCO involves the preparation of a comprehensive water management plan for a coal mine in the Sakhalin Islands in Russia.

“We reviewed their water resource management practice, shared international experience and focused on data quality and organizational structures necessary for proper water management strategies,” said  Assenov.

In addition to major projects, Assenov noted the training initiatives that cover groundwater flow modeling using MODFLOW and other software, basics of geology, geotechnical conditions, surface water and underground water management. 

“Our main direction is to continue providing high-quality services and expanding our reach in the region, leveraging our expertise and the strategic location of Kazakhstan,” added Assenov.

He also highlighted the value of water and evolving strategies for water resource management in Kazakhstan.  

“Water is a valuable asset, our country is adopting new strategies for its management. We have a new ministry, new ideas and initiatives like the recently established Kazhydrogeology. This year, we have seen many new developments in water resource management,” said Assenov. 

Water resources management challenges in Kazakhstan

“The groundwater levels are going down and there is a potential for sanization of both water and soil. We try to optimize the use of water resources to minimize these impacts in the future,” said Guiguer. 

Yernat Assenov, Director of Water Services and Technologies in Kazakhstan. Photo credit: waterservicestech.com.

According to Assenov, Kazakhstan’s key challenges include data collection and management, groundwater depletion and salinization and strategic planning. He noted the importance of establishing a centralized database for water resources, which would allow stakeholders to input data, issue permits, monitor water levels and set future goals. 

“We have been to the Ministry of Water Resources bringing this idea forward and hopefully it will be implemented soon to have this centralized water resources database in the country,” said Assenov. 

“Water management has become a global issue, regardless of whether a country has a database. We need to collect data, ensure its quality, build our strategy based on this database and find ways to manage groundwater and surface water resources effectively,” he added. 

Assenov mentioned successful initiatives in neighboring countries, such as Uzbekistan’s establishment of Uzbekistan Hydrogeology, a government-owned company focused on hydrochemical monitoring.

“They are interested in our services and assistance,” noted Assenov. “Besides, we plan to visit Kyrgyzstan, where we can start with mining companies. We already have projects in Russia and are looking to expand to Mongolia and Turkey,” he added. 

Brazil-Kazakhstan bilateral relationship

According to Guiguer, the Brazil-Kazakhstan relationship holds significant growth potential due to both countries’ size and shared interests in mining, oil and gas. He highlighted that there are collaboration opportunities in agriculture, fertilizer and technology, although these sectors are still developing. 

To further strengthen bilateral cooperation, Guiguer suggested negotiating a bilateral tax agreement and streamlining the visa process. He underlined the current challenges for Brazilian people, who must travel to Brasilia, the capital, to obtain a business visa to Kazakhstan, which is valid for 30 days per entry.

“I think streamlining online visa opportunities, and extending the period of single stays, would go a long way for companies to establish the business,” said Guiguer. 

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