Welcome to Ekibastuz, a city located in the northeastern region of Kazakhstan, known for its coal mining industry and stunning natural landscapes. The city’s history dates back to the 19th century, when Kosym Pshembayev discovered a coal field southeast of Pavlodar. The commercial exploitation of the field began soon after and continued to develop, with the field being sold to a British businessman, Leslie Urquhart. The village of Ekibastuz was established in 1899 and the industrial development of the city began in 1954. Today, Ekibastuz is home to over 140,000 people and is the largest open-cast coal field in the world.
The Vostochny Coal Mine company, located in Ekibastuz, is one of the most promising coal regions in the world, containing over 13 billion tons of coal in the area of 62 square kilometers. In addition to the coal mining industry, the city is also home to two coal-fired power plants: GRES-1 and GRES-2. GRES-2 has the tallest chimney in the world, standing at 419.7 meters.
Aside from its industrial significance, Ekibastuz also offers visitors the opportunity to explore its natural beauty. Located in a naturally arid area, the city and its industries are supplied with water primarily from the Irtysh River, via the Irtysh–Karaganda Canal, which passes about 10 km north of Ekibastuz, where a number of water reservoirs are located. The region is also home to stunning landscapes, including nearby Lake Ekibastuz, which boasts breathtaking views.
Ekibastuz was also the site of a major labor camp of the Gulag system maintained by the Soviet Union from the 1920s to the 1950s. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn served in this camp and it is now the Shakhtyor Stadium, a soccer stadium in the city.
Overall, while Ekibastuz may not be as well-known as other destinations in Kazakhstan, its unique history, natural beauty, and industrial importance make it a fascinating place to visit. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s coal mining industry, taking in the stunning views of Lake Ekibastuz or learning about its Gulag past, there’s no shortage of activities to keep visitors entertained.