Natural resources, energy and environment
Uzbekistan is estimated to have some of the world’s largest gold reserves. The country also has large natural gas resources and significant deposits of oil, coal, silver, copper, lead, iron and tungsten. Uzbekistan is suffering from huge environmental problems as a result of many years of land and water predation.
In the desert north of the city of Buchara is one of the world’s largest gold mines, Murantau. Uzbekistan is also an important uranium producer. All the uranium that is mined is exported.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Uzbekistan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
The oil and gas sector has developed strongly since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Natural gas is mainly extracted in the region between Bukhara and Chiva. There are also gas sources in the Fergana Valley and near Lake Aral. Oil and gas production has increased with the help of Russian and Chinese investments.
The domestic need for electricity is covered by 75 per cent of natural gas and otherwise by hydropower. The oil is not exported but covers the country’s own needs.
Low domestic oil and gas prices as a result of government subsidies have attracted widespread smuggling to neighboring countries.
In 2009, Uzbekistan stopped the export of electricity to other former Soviet republics through the old, common power grid. The neighboring countries claimed that the decision was a political revenge for hydropower projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that could threaten the flow of river water into Uzbekistan. For the same reason, the gas was shut down for nine months in 2014. Uzbekistan has built its own power grid for the equivalent of one billion dollars.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, UZ stands for Uzbekistan. Visit itypeusa for more information about Uzbekistan.
In October 2018, the government decided to build the country’s first nuclear power plant with Russian support.
Extensive environmental problems
Uzbekistan is plagued by severe environmental problems. Since the 1960s, the surface of the Aral Sea has been reduced to only one-tenth of its origin by draining vast amounts of water from the Amu-Darja and Syr-Darja rivers. There have been fears that the lake would completely disappear, with devastating consequences for the people of the area.
A project in Kazakhstan to save at least the northern part of the lake – which has been broken up into various small lakes – has had some success. However, the Uzbek authorities seem prepared to give up the idea of rescuing the southern part of the lake and possibly planting forest on the former seabed to halt land degradation, or look for oil and gas in the area.
The drying out of the Aral Sea has given rise to an environmental disaster that has had far-reaching effects. The salt on the dry seabed is carried by the winds over 100 miles away, settles over the soil and renders it unusable. The salt also penetrates into the groundwater. The problems are exacerbated by all the pesticides that are sprayed across the country’s seemingly endless cotton fields and penetrate into the groundwater.
The worst affected by the environmental problems is the Karakalpakstan in the west. Mortality around Lake Aral is significantly higher than the average in the country, diseases of the airways and stomach are common and child mortality is high. More children are born malformed around Lake Aral than in other parts of the country and the average life expectancy is low.
A certain optimism was aroused when President Mirzijojev’s government in 2017 raised funding for operations around the Aral Sea. The intention was, among other things, to create new jobs, improve water supply and sanitary conditions, develop healthcare and modernize the infrastructure.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
1,419 kilos of oil equivalent (2013)
Electricity consumption per person
1645 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
105 214 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
3.4 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
3.0 percent (2015)
Cooperation agreement with the United States
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Tashkent, where she signs an agreement on scientific and technical cooperation between the United States and Uzbekistan. She makes another visit in October 2011.
Attorney in charge of new party
Human rights lawyer Ruhiddin Komilov becomes leader of the newly formed political party National interests. Several of the party’s founders are arrested and interrogated by the police.
Freelance correspondent is fined
The freelance journalist and correspondent for the Voice of America radio channel, Abdumalik Boboev, is being convicted and for having circulated material that could damage society’s stability. Despite pressure from the United States, Boboev is sentenced to a fine.
New Islamist guerilla leader
Usman Adil is said to have become the new leader of the Islamist guerrilla group Uzbekistan’s Islamic Movement (IMU). Adil’s representatives were reportedly killed in a US military attack in Pakistan.
NATO is granted access
Uzbekistan allows military alliance Nato to cross the country as they begin to evacuate their bases in Afghanistan ahead of the planned troop retreat in 2014.
Privatizations are promised
The regime announces comprehensive plans to sell state property with the aim of expanding the private sector. Foreign assessors question whether the heavily regime-controlled economy can really be privatized to any significant extent.
Uzbeker flees from Kyrgyzstan
Nearly 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks cross the border from Kyrgyzstan, where violent unrest has led to attacks on the uzb. However, most people return after a short time, after the refugee camps in Uzbekistan were closed.
Critical UN chief visiting
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits Tashkent and demands that the regime respect human rights.
Healthcare workers are imprisoned for the spread of HIV
Twenty care workers are sentenced to prison for 5-8 years for having infected 147 children with HIV in a hospital during the period 2008-2009. Several of the children have since passed away.
UN claims on torture investigation
The UN torture reporter calls for an international investigation into suspected systematic use of, among other things, rape in Uzbek detention and prisons.
Parliamentary elections end without opposition
The second round of the parliamentary elections is held. Only parties loyal to the Karimov regime are allowed to stand.