World Wide Minerals (WWM) of Canada has given notice to various international bodies which handle, process or purchase uranium concentrates from Kazakhstan, that it is claiming either title to or a security interest in all uranium concentrates that have been received by them since 7 October 1996 or which may be received in future.
These include Cameco, ConverDyn (a unit of AlliedSignal), British Nuclear Fuels and Comurhex (a unit of Cogema). Similar notices have been given to entities known to be purchasing uranium concentrates and nuclear fuel from Kazakhstan, including Synatom (Belgium), Cogema (France), General Electric (US) and Germany’s Nukem Nuklear and its US subsidiary, Nukem, (Nukem is the uranium-trading subsidiary of the German energy conglomerate, RWE Energie.) Kazakhstan had agreed to reimburse WWM fully for its investments but after several months of talks, the company opened a $220 million lawsuit in the US Federal Court. The latest steps are designed to ensure payment of money owed on loans secured on the mining and production facilities in Kazakhstan as well as inventories of raw materials and processed uranium concentrates exported from Kazakhstan. Uranium concentrates processed in Kazakh facilities are subject to security interests held by World Wide for the loan.
WWM Chairman and CEO Paul Carroll says the company intends to attach shipments of uranium concentrates from Kazakhstan wherever they may be held.
“We will attach the product itself and the proceeds of its sale wherever we can” he said.
“Kazakhstan should not underestimate our resolve to achieve full reimbursement of our loans as well as damages for our loss of profits. If necessary, we will invoke the assistance of courts in countries in addition to the USA in our efforts to obtain redress, which will include any entity which has participated in this action by Kazakhstan.” WWM insists that its right to attach uranium extends to derivatives of uranium produced or shipped from Kazakhstan since October 1996, the date when its rights commenced. This would include upgraded or enriched uranium and nuclear fuel components, some of which are being imported into the USA by or for Nukem and General Electric. World Wide has appealed to the US Department of Commerce in this respect. The Department is considering a request made on 9 November by Kazakhstan for cancellation of the bilateral agreement setting a quota for imports of Kazakhstan-source uranium into the US. If the agreement is cancelled, imports will be subject to heavy anti-dumping duties. However, Kazakhstan-source uranium could be swapped for uranium from other countries which then could be imported freely, in circumvention of the anti-dumping duties. World Wide claims that its rights also extend to these arrangements.