France’s Orano on 4 September signed a partnership agreement with Uzbekistan's State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources (GoscomGeo) to develop uranium mining activities in the country's Navoiy region.
The companies plan to create a joint venture in the coming months (51% held by Orano and 49% by GoscomGeo).
Orano said the two sides intend to conduct borehole drilling works in the area to improve the classification of resources already identified by GoscomGeo and discover new uranium resources. This work is expected to start in the first half of 2020.
"Uzbekistan has extensive experience in the mining of uranium deposits by ISR, and combined with Orano's experience, this gives this project the solid foundations expected to move into new territories and develop innovative solutions capable of improving our productivity and thus meet our customers' expectations," said Nicolas Maes, senior executive vice president of Orano's Mining Business Unit.
GoscomGeo chairman Bobir Islamov added: "The partnership agreement we are signing with Orano is about consolidating our efforts and carrying out mutually beneficial projects in order to diversify our uranium industry and create new production capacities by combining the expertise and experience of both parties."
Uzbekistan has 57,600tU in reasonably assured recoverable resources and 81,500tU inferred recoverable resources to USD130/kgU in sandstones, plus 32,900tU in black shales, according to the 2018 Red Book. The biannual publication is a reference on uranium jointly prepared by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In 2014 GoskomGeology reported resources of 138,800 tU in sandstones and 47,000 tU in black shales.