* President announces package of measures to bridge
* Taxing mining cos more, freezing senior civil servants'
* Govt also plans incentives to encourage mining exploration
* Details of the plans yet to be revealed
ALMATY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart
Tokayev ordered his government on Tuesday to extract greater tax
revenue from the mining sector which he said was profiting from
higher metals prices.
Kazakhstan has just weathered the worst bout of unrest since
it gained independence from the Soviet Union three decades ago
and the plan for higher taxation of the mining sector was
included in a package of measures announced by Tokayev on
Tuesday to try and bridge income inequality.
The Central Asian country is the world's top global producer
of uranium, the metal that fuels nuclear power plants, and also
has large deposits of copper, iron ore and zinc.
Prices of industrial metals prices surged last year and the
price of uranium also jumped last week after the unrest, which
was initially sparked by protests against a hike in fuel prices
but widened into what the authorities have since called an
attempted coup d'etat.
"The income of firms in the mining sector has grown against
the backdrop of higher prices for raw materials," Tokayev said
in his speech to parliament.
"I am ordering the government to come up with a plan (to
bring) additional revenues to the budget. In exchange we can
provide large incentives for the exploration and development of
new deposits for large mining and other companies."
Among other measures, Tokayev urged big businesses to make
regular contributions to a new charity foundation, froze the
salaries of senior-level civil servants and said the government
must eliminate monopolies and ensure fair competition.
He did not provide additional details on the initiative or
on the incentives that might be given to mining firms. Nor did
he say when the measure might come into force.
It was therefore not immediately clear how Tokayev's plan
might affect foreign mining and commodity companies such as
Glencore, Rio Tinto and French nuclear fuel
firm Orano that do business in the Central Asian country.
Glencore, which controls zinc, copper and lead producer
Kazzinc, declined to comment on the presidents tax comments. A
source familiar with the situation said Glencore's operations
had not been impacted by the protests.
National mining company Kazatomprom, the
world's biggest producer of uranium said last week that its
operations and exports were not affected by the unrest, which
the authorities say has since been brought under control.
Russia announced a similar mining tax measure last year,
imposing higher taxes on metals firms to attract more budget
(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Mariya Gordeyeva in Almaty and
by Clara Denina in London; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber;
Editing by Andrew Osborn and Susan Fenton)