Interview with Bakhtiyar Krykpyshev, Director for Development, Kazakhmys Corporation LLC.
Mr. Krykpyshev, please tell us what includes corporate social responsibility of Kazakhmys?
Kazakhmys’ main principles of corporate social responsibility are to maintain a positive image of the responsible business and to assist in the sustainable development of the territories where its main activities are carried out.
Throughout its years of operation, our company is socially oriented and pays special attention to addressing social problems in the regions of its presence.
I would like to emphasize that the implementation of regional socio-economic development programs is a function and responsibility of the government. Kazakhmys, however, as a backbone enterprise, voluntarily makes its own contribution.
Why is it important for Kazakhmys to participate in the community and develop infrastructure in the regions where it operates?
As you know, Kazakhmys employs local people, and one-third of the region’s able-bodied people work at Kazakhmys. The company pays salaries on time and in full, and meets its obligations to the government under subsoil use contracts, taxes, and other payments.
At the same time, we are aware that the company’s development depends on the well-being of local residents, a significant part of which work at our enterprises or supply us with their goods and services. In addition, any business needs the support from both the local community and the authorities, and we have a long and fruitful cooperation with them.
Knowing that the cities of Zhezkazgan, Satpayev and Balkhash have a number of unsolvable social problems, we do not stand aside and we support in every way through charity and sponsorship, implementation of socially significant activities and infrastructure projects under our own initiative.
How regular are Kazakhmys activities aimed at regions’ development?
For this purpose, the corporation has established a Regional Development Service. To assess the level of our regions’ development, we used the UN methodology, which prioritizes raising the basic level of economic development, i.e., addressing the basic needs of the region’s residents.
We have studied the entire situation in detail and have undertaken a number of studies and surveys. Having identified the main problems, Kazakhmys developed and initiated a joint Program of Sustainable Development of Zhezkazgan, Satpayev and Balkhash and Ulytau region until 2025 supported by the regional and municipal Akimats (city administrations).
The main objectives of this program are to create comfortable living conditions, address priority social issues, and diversify the regional economy.
Please tell us briefly about the ongoing and future projects?
As part of its participation in the Regional Development Program, Kazakhmys offered to support the government in supplying quality drinking water to the community, solving housing problems of socially vulnerable groups, improving the quality of primary education, health care, public safety, and stabilizing the food market.
Thus, for example, the Corporation will develop the documents necessary for the implementation of projects to provide clean drinking water to the cities of Zhezkazgan and Satpayev from underground Eskula and Uytas-Aidos reservoirs. Kazakhmys also built a reserve water conduit from the water reservoir, in case of Uytas-Aidos water conduit repair.
The company provides housing for multi-children employees: in 2019 we donated 10 four-room apartments, and 131 apartments in 2020. This year we will donate 52 apartments to employees of municipal medical organizations.
In order to solve the problem of dilapidated housing, we will support the development of project documentation for the construction of multi-storied apartment buildings.
A significant contribution will be made to the primary and secondary education development. On our initiative, the Professional Growth School for regional secondary school teachers was launched in August last year. Within two years, the company will build and equip 6 large kindergartens. At the request of Akimats, we support secondary schools in equipping.
In 2022, the Education and Employment Center will open in Satpayev, which will enable children to learn about future professions and young people to refocus their specialization to meet the needs of the labor market.
Significant efforts are being made to develop the health sector. They include the unique scientific study of the healthcare system in Satpayev. Based on the results of the study, a program for maintaining the health of the city’s population for 2021-2023 was developed in collaboration with the regional Akimat. Similar programs are being developed for Balkhash and Zhezkazgan.
The company has been active in combatting the global coronavirus pandemic through supplying necessary medical equipment, PPE, and medicines to the company and government clinics.
In order to create safe living conditions in our regions, a number of projects are also being implemented.
A Safe Neighborhood Pilot Project was launched in Zhezkazgan, which included comprehensive video monitoring and lighting of residential buildings at 7-7A-9 Yesenberlin Street and Secondary School No. 3, which significantly reduced the number of crime offenses there. A similar project, but of a larger scale, is being implemented in the Nurly-Meken Microdistrict of Satpayev.
A significant support is provided to police operatives in providing them with communications equipment, vehicles, uniforms, and office equipment.
A "Safe Yard" pilot project was launched in Zhezkazgan, which included a complete coverage with video monitoring and illumination of residential buildings at 7-7A-9 Yesenberlin Street and Secondary School No. 3, which significantly reduced the number of crimes committed there. A similar project, but of a larger scale, is being implemented in the Nurly-Meken Microdistrict of Satpayev.
Substantial assistance is also provided to police operatives in supplying them with communications equipment, vehicles, uniforms, and office equipment.
For several years, the coast of the Kengir water reservoir has been planted with greenery. Since last year, Satpayev streets’ greening has been carried out. The residential courtyard areas are being improved and the first pilot project for the common area improvement was completed in Zhezkazgan. Garyshkerler Boulevard has been reconstructed, and we consider the possibility of improving other public areas of the city, as requested by the Akimats.
Kazakhmys has been actively involved in measures to stabilize prices for socially important products in the Zhezkazgan region. In 2018 we opened the largest shopping center in the region: ULY DALA hypermarket. Last year we launched a retail network of 20 mini-markets in Zhezkazgan and Satpayev; 18 have already been launched. We are considering the possibility of building similar mini-markets in the city of Balkhash.
The company also participates in the development of tourism, culture and sports.
The Company supported the state in financing the design documentation for a number of tourist sites in the Ulytau region. The Company is studying the possibility of attracting tourists to the historical places of mining and metallurgy development.
We cooperate with Namys sports club to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage young people to take up sports. We renovated the Kansk Sports Complex, where the largest wrestling hall was opened.
There are plans to sponsor cultural establishments.
How does the population accept your initiatives? What is needed for the successful implementation of the scheduled program?
Outcomes of the work done by the company are visible and have a positive response from the majority of the population. There are, of course, individuals, like in any community, who try to condemn Kazakhmys in some problems of the region through social networks.
We are always open to constructive criticism and suggestions, as this helps us make the right decisions.
But once again, I would like to emphasize that Kazakhmys is first and foremost a business entity whose core business is production. Our responsibility is to provide jobs, pay salaries, pay taxes, and comply with other legal requirements and we do this responsibly.
Social projects in the regions are our own initiative as a socially oriented company, and we implement it on a voluntary basis, in agreement with the local executive bodies and with the aim to support them.
As for the further implementation of the planned Regional Development Program, Kazakhmys still has numerous initiatives, and we plan to implement them step by step.
However, it also depends on the Akimats, since the built or renovated facilities are donated to the state. In order for them to bring their benefit to the city and its residents, new facilities must be properly maintained; otherwise they can be quickly made unusable. Therefore, before implementing our initiative, we must first obtain a guarantee from the Akimats about their readiness to accept the implemented project and ensure its further maintenance.
I hope that the joint efforts and social communications of the local authorities, residents and businesses, including our company, will enable the regions to further develop and raise the standard of living in these regions, and eventually move from a “city of miners and metallurgists” to a comfortable city with a developed economy.