Quarterly uranium output decreases in Kazakhstan and USA

03 May 2019

Kazatomprom's uranium production for the first quarter of 2019 was 4% down from the same period in 2018 as the Kazakh company continues with its plan to reduce production. Meanwhile, US uranium production for the quarter was 74% down from 2018.

Yellowcake (Image: KAP Technology/Kazatomprom)

Total production for the first quarter was 5294 tU, down from 5528 tU in 2018, although Kazatomprom's attributable production - that is, the portion of production of an entity in which the company has an interest - at 3063 tU was up from 2911 tU in 2018. Sales volumes for the first quarter of 2019 were lower compared to the same period in 2018, primarily due to a customer's request to shift an 800 tU delivery from the first to the second quarter, the company said. The average realised price for the first quarter - USD26.78 per pound U3O8 - was 16% higher compared to 2018.

The company said its production expectations remain unchanged and are consistent with its ongoing intention to "flex down" planned production volumes by 20% over 2018-2020. Total production is expected to be 22,750-22,800 tU (100% basis) in 2019; without the reduction, this would have exceeded 28,500 tU.

With its attributable production representing about 23% of total global uranium primary production in 2018, Kazatomprom describes itself as the world's largest producer of uranium. Through its subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates it operates 26 deposits in 13 mining assets, all of which are located in Kazakhstan and mined using in-situ leach (ISL) technology.

The company said it expects to maintain an inventory level of approximately six months of annual attributable production at 2019 year-end.

US production hits low

US uranium production in the first quarter of 2019, at 58,481 pounds U3O8, was down 83% from the fourth quarter of 2018 and down 74% from the first quarter of 2018, according to figures released on 1 May by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Uranium was produced at four facilities, all ISL operations located in Wyoming: Lost Creek; Nichols Ranch; Ross; and Smith Ranch-Highland. This is two fewer than in the fourth quarter of 2018, the EIA said.

US President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision on any further action following a US Department of Commerce investigation into the effects of uranium imports on US national security. The investigation, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, was triggered by the filing in January 2018 of a petition by uranium mining companies Energy Fuels Inc and Ur-Energy, who sought a quota to limit imports of uranium into the USA, effectively reserving 25% of the market for domestic production.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News