Itochu contracts to buy Uzbek uranium

08 February 2011

Japanese trading house Itochu announced that it has signed a "long-term, large-scale sale and purchase agreement" for uranium concentrate with Uzbekistan's Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine (NMMC). Although details of the contract - such as quantities and value - were not disclosed, Itochu said that the ten-year contract would help it to "remain committed greatly to the stable supply of uranium to Japan." Japan and Uzbekistan agreed to cooperate in the development of Uzbekistan's uranium reserves during a visit by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to Uzbekistan in 2006. At the time, it was reported that Uzbekistan would begin supplying natural uranium to Japan in 2007 and that some 300 tonnes of uranium would be exported to Japan via Itochu. In October 2007, Itochu had reportedly been invited by Uzbekistan to deepen cooperation and jointly explore Uzbekistan's uranium reserves. Japan relies on nuclear power for some 30% of its electricity, but has no indigenous uranium.