Kazakhstan takes top spot in 2009

05 January 2010

Kazakhstan has laid claim to being the world's top uranium producing country in 2009. Provisional figures show that its uranium output leapt over 60% last year to reach some 13,900 tonnes, surpassing both Canada's and Australia's forecast production.


State-owned nuclear energy company KazAtomProm reported that by 21 December its Mining Company subsidiary had reached its annual target of producing 13,500 tonnes of uranium. It added that at least a further 400 tonnes would be produced by the end of the year. The total output of some 13,900 tonnes represents a 63% increase from the 8521 tonnes it produced in 2008, the company said.


Such a growth in output, KazAtomProm said, made the company the leading producer in 2009. Ux Consulting had forecast that Canada, previously the world's biggest uranium producer, would produce just less than 10,000 tonnes in 2009, while Australia would produce almost 8000 tonnes.


There are currently 21 operating uranium mines in Kazakhstan producing uranium through the in-situ leach (ISL) method. KazAtomProm said the boost in production in 2009 was achieved by bringing new mines into operation and expanding existing production capacities. The Khorassan 1 mine was commissioned in April 2009.


Nurlan Ryspanov, vice president of KazAtomProm, said: "Notwithstanding significant technological problems and difficulties in sulfuric acid supply to the industry in 2008 - early 2009, concerted efforts of KazAtomProm, KazZinc and Kazakhmys let us overcome the critical point and hit the target."


Ryspanov noted, "As far as the nuclear industry develops and supply from secondary sources diminishes, we are expecting a shortage of natural uranium in the world from 2016." He added, "To cover such anticipated deficit, Kazakhstan is planning to increase its uranium production to 18,000 tonnes by 2010. At that, Kazakhstan will be the top uranium producer in the world in the period of peak demand for uranium."


KazAtomProm said that it will start implementing new hi-tech projects in 2010, in particular "science-intensive and technology-intensive operations based on rare and rare-earth metals and elaboration of alternative energy installations" in Kazakhstan. In addition, the company plans to invest over KZT 3 billion ($20 million) during 2010 in social projects to develop uranium mining regions and adjacent areas.


KazAtomProm is also implementing a strategy to become a vertically-integrated company involved in all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. This strategy, the company said, is based on "agreements reached with key players in the nuclear market." In April, KazAtomProm signed a memorandum with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC) to partner for nuclear power plant construction.


Researched and written
by World Nuclear News