In another move to secure a stable and long-term supply of uranium, four Japanese companies have decided to participate in the Kharasan uranium mine project in Kazakhstan.
Marubeni Corp, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) and Chubu Electric Power Co have acquired an indirect ownership interest in Kyzylkum LLP and Baiken-U LLP, which are developing the Kharasan-1 and Kharasan-2 uranium deposits, respectively. The Japanese companies acquired the ownership interests by investing in a Kazatomprom-related company which has ownership and control of Kyzylkum LLP and Baiken-U LLP. The investment was made in the following ratio: Marubeni 60%, Tepco 30% and Chubu 10%.
Tohoku Electric Power Co has also decided to participate in the Kharasan project and is planning to buy a partial indirect ownership interest in Kyzylkum LLP and Baiken-U LLP from the other three Japanese companies.
Part of the funding necessary for the development of this project is expected to be obtained from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) through its natural resources financing. Overseas investment insurance for the project has also been obtained by Marubeni, Tepco and Chubu from Nippon Export & Investment Insurance (NEXI).
The Kharasan project is scheduled to start test production by the end of 2007 and is expected to reach full production of some 5000 tU per year by around 2014. The mine is expected to continue operating until about 2050, by which time it could potentially produce over 160,000 tU, according to a joint statement by the purchasers. The Japanese companies will have the right to an aggregate annual quantity of 2000 tU produced at the mine.
In August 2006, then Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a joint statement extolling the "successful materialization of significant projects in the area of exploration, development and production of uranium resources."
Chubu Electric Power Co
Tohoku Electric Power Co
Tokyo Electric Power Co
WNA's Uranium and Nuclear Power in Kazakhstan information paper
WNA's Nuclear Power in Japan information paper
WNN: Japanese seek confidence of uranium supply
WNN: Kazakhstan to expand uranium production and supply