France’s Areva and Kazakhstan’s national atomic company, Kazatomprom, signed an agreement on 10 April strengthening cooperation in Kazakhstan’s uranium mining sector, Areva said in a statement.
The agreement opens new opportunities for further developing the Katco joint venture, in which Areva holds a 51% stake and Kazatomprom 49%. Katco, which was set up in 1996, operates the Muyunkum and Tortkuduk uranium mines in south Kazakhstan.
Areva said the agreement gives Katco “a new long-term perspective with the development of the South Tortkuduk project which will extend its production for the next two decades”. According to Areva, Katco produced around 4000t of uranium (tU) in 2015.
Kazakhstan has no commercial nuclear power plants as yet, but has been the world’s leading uranium producer since 2009. From 2001 to 2013 production rose from 2022tU to about 22,550tU a year. In 2015 Kazakhstan remained the world’s leading producer of uranium with more than 23,800 tU, accounting for 39% of world production. Earlier this year Kazatomprom said Kazakhstan plans to produce 10% less uranium in 2017 than it had previously planned, in response to ongoing oversupply in the uranium market.