China to Partner with Tajikistan on US$1.6 Billion Aluminium Plant

The People’s Republic of China is planning to build a US$1.6-billion aluminium plant in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan according to an announcement made by the state-owned aluminium firm Tajik Aluminium Company (Talco).

Talco spokesperson Igor Sattarov said Friday that his company has entered into an agreement with China’s Yunnan Construction Engineering Group to construct a “joint Tajik-Chinese factory” in Talco’s home town of Tursunzoda in the western portion of the country. The plant’s projected nameplate capacity will be 500 thousand metric tons, he elaborated.

Sattarov continued by saying that the plant is scheduled for completion within the next eighteen months. The plant, which will have “the most advanced technology to date” is expected to provide jobs for around 1,200 people.

According to Sattarov, the proposed new plant is expected to be more energy efficient than Talco’s existing 500-thousand-metric-ton-per-annum plant. Talco’s existing plant has turned out only 76 thousand metric tons through the first nine months of this year.

Tajikistan’s economy has been in the doldrums in recent years as the country awaits the completion of the Rogun Dam on the Vakhsh River in the southern portion of the country. Though proposed in 1959 and preliminary work begun in 1976, the dam has proven controversial. Despite the fact that it would provide a significant bump in electrical supply (including for aluminium-smelting activities), construction only began in earnest in 2016 due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and funding difficulties from the World Bank in the intervening years.

Regional experts see the plan as an expansion of China’s influence over its western neighbor. Beijing owns approximately half of the country’s debt, and Tajikistan is situated over a great deal of bauxite that the country has been unable to harvest and sell due to a lack of finances and, until lately, a prohibitively low price for aluminium.

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