Arkalyk is a city in central Kazakhstan, the centre of the Arkalyk district in the Kostanay region. It was founded in 1956, got the status of the city in 1965. It’s located 670 km from Astana, 480 km from Kostanay.
Today it is nearly dead…
Arkalyk is a classic victim of the Soviet economic politics. The city was built for 10 years only, in the bare steppe, near The Turgaysky bauxite mine group that used to extract 20% of all bauxite ore in the USSR. In 1980s Arkalyk was going to be turned into one of the industrial centres of the region: it even became the centre of the Turagy region, there appeared a large airport, the construction of aero-engines was started…
The collapse of the Soviet economics in the end of the 80s cancelled all these plans. After the liquidation of the Turgay region in 1988 and freezing all programs of industrial development, the city entered the period of hard social and economic decline, it lost 35% of its population and turned into a retrograde, depressive city with non-diversified industry.
It could be only the collapse of the USSR to be blamed for that, but it cannot be ignored that mechanisms of its following downfall were launched already at the stage of the city creation.
First of all, the city location was decided to be in the place that was rich with bauxite mines. They didn’t think if it was good for the city itself. Then it turned out that Arkalyk didn’t have a realible water supply. An aluminum plant could be placed there if they had enough water. The city doesn’t have its own sources of energy. Its buildings were surrounded with bauxite mines and heaps of waste materials. So Arkalyk was destined to have a miserable existence of a typical Soviet industrial city with all its disadvantages and awful environmental conditions.
Secondly, the development program of the Turgay region was never made up. So the city with a non-diversified industry was put into the centre of the large agricaltural region. The economics of the territory couldn’t develop at the expense of its own resources, it required dotations and it became the main reason of the region abolition.
Thirdly the city didn’t have strong connections with other cities of Central and Nothern Kazakhstan. Arkalyk turned out to be the final station of the short railway spur Esil – Arkalyk, the final stop of the asphalted road (broken-down and outworn) Kostanay – Esil – Arkalyk and the starting point of the dirt road (almost impassable) Arkalyk – Zhezkazgan. Other ways of communication with the city were never offered.