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Economy

A Kazakh mining town races to reinvent itself

With its resources drying up, Arkalyk looks for a new way to survive

The population of the Arkalyk area has fallen by half since Soviet times, leaving many buildings abandoned. (Photo by Chris Rickleton)

ARKALYK, Kazakhstan Arkalyk, a town of fewer than 30,000 people in the central belt of Kazakhstan, wears its mining heritage proudly. By the municipal museum, a hunk of bauxite stands atop a plinth, close to the excavator bucket that tore it out of the ground in 1964.

After winter storms, brick-red mineral dust still speckles the snow-covered streets. Waste material from the mine, built largely by locally held prisoners of the former Soviet Union, rises out of the steppe surrounding the town like earthen fortifications.

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