Arrangements stand, says KazAtomProm chief

12 June 2009

The new head of KazAtomProm has assured the company's overseas partners that the company is able to fulfil its production plans and that all existing arrangements will be honoured.

Following talks with representatives from many of KazAtomProm's foreign partners, the company announced that production plans over recent months had been implemented as planned and that export supplies would be made as scheduled. Existing arrangements would not be changed, company president Vladimir Shkolnik announced, "KazAtomProm understands its responsibility for resources provision to the world nuclear power industry," said Shkolnik.

The announcement follows speculation about the outlook for the company’s many foreign partners amid investigations into former senior executives accused of misappropriating state assets. Kazakhstan is one of the world's major uranium producers and is set to become the leading exporter in coming years thanks in part to a range of joint venture agreements with uranium buyers and traders from around the world.

The investigations prompted nuclear industry representatives, notably the World Nuclear Association (WNA) and the US-based Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), to voice their concern that legally made contracts be upheld and market disruption be avoided. In a letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, WNA director general John Ritch expressed hopes for a "just resolution of current legal issues in a timely manner" that "upholds the sanctity of contracts fairly and properly made." 

Over the past two weeks, KazAtomProm says it has held negotiations with many of its foreign partners: Japanese companies Marubeni, Sumitomo and Nuclear Fuel Industries; Japanese financial and credit and insurance companies and banks NEХI, JBIC, ERM and ING; Russian company AtomRedMetZoloto; China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co; Areva of France; Uranium Onе from Canada; Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, and others. Negotiations are to be held with Cameco (Canada), Toshiba (Japan) and Westinghouse Electric (USA) on further cooperation development "in the nearest future."

Shkolnik was appointed as president of Khazakstan's state-controlled uranium company in May on the orders of Kazakhstan's Prosecutor General, replacing Moukhtar Dzhakishev. Dzhakishev and other top KazAtomProm executives were subsequently arrested and are under investigation concerning allegations of 'stripping' of state assets during sales of uranium desposits to investment companies that were later bought into by foreign firms.