Uranium mine development permit secures KATCO production

19 August 2022

An addendum to an existing Subsoil Use Contract signed by the Kazakh-French joint venture and the Kazakh Ministry of Energy means the industrial development of the South Tortkuduk parcel of the Muyunkum uranium deposit can go ahead. Production is expected to begin in 18 months.

The South Tortkuduk parcel of the Muyunkum uranium deposit in Kazakhstan (Image: Orano)

KATCO, a joint venture of Orano Mining (51%) and NAC Kazatomprom (49%), produces uranium by in-situ leach (ISL) technology at the Muyunkum deposit located in Turkestan region of Kazakhtsan, about 300 kilometres north of Shymkent. The South Tortkuduk uranium parcel, with estimated uranium reserves of 46,000 tU, is located between the Tortkuduk and Muyunkum mine sites which KATCO has been operating for more than 20 years and which have together produced over 40,000 tU since production began. Like those mines, the new project will use ISL methods.

Given the work required to bring the new parcel on stream, KATCO's total production could be limited to approximately 65% of its nominal capacity (about 2600 tU per year) for the next two years, with an estimated return to its full production level of about 4000 tU per year in 2026 at the earliest, Orano said.

Philippe Knoche, Orano's CEO, said the decision aligns with a 2017 strategic agreement between the joint venture partners. "This Addendum to the existing Subsoil Use Contract gives KATCO long-term prospects for its uranium production. Orano and Kazatomprom share many of the same common objectives, including the goal of being responsible miners developing the best mining techniques in terms of both environmental protection and operational performance, in order to contribute to the production of low-carbon electricity and to ensure security of supply for our customers," he said.

Subsoil use contracts are agreements with the Kazakh government covering the production of uranium by ISL methods.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News