“Currently, in accordance with the instructions of the head of state, the possibilities of Kazatomprom’s participation in uranium conversion and enrichment technologies are being considered. The Orano company is one of the world leaders, possessing all the technologies, and the agreement, which was signed at the Kazatomprom level, also involves studying the possibility of Kazatomprom entering and obtaining these technologies,” Mr. Satkaliev said at the briefing.
The Minister of Energy emphasized that Kazakhstan needs to expand its presence in the full cycle of uranium processing.
“We have unique competencies in mining and primary processing; we are number one in the world in uranium supply and uranium export. We have operating research reactors. That is, the missing link in this cycle is the conversion and enrichment of uranium, and now the Kazatomprom company, in accordance with the instructions of the head of state, is studying the possibility of covering this cycle,” added the head of the Ministry of Energy.
He did not specify where the final products will be sent, noting that “it depends on world market conditions.”
Earlier it was reported that the management of the Samruk-Kazyna state fund discussed with the chief operating officer of the Orano group, Nicolas Maes, the expansion of cooperation on the Kazakh-French uranium enterprise Katko LLP. The French side voiced a proposal to expand areas of cooperation, including the implementation of joint strategic projects outside of Kazakhstan.
Kazakh-French joint venture Katko LLP was founded in 1996, its participants are Kazatomprom and Orano Mining – the Kazakh division of the French Orano Mining, which, in turn, is part of Orano SA. Katko mines uranium using the in-situ leaching method in the northern part of the N1 (South) section and in the N2 (Tortkuduk) section of the Moyynkum deposit in the Turkestan region of Kazakhstan.
In December 2022, Kazatomprom and Orano Mining signed a memorandum of cooperation in the nuclear industry, in particular, on the further development of the Katko joint venture as part of the official visit of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to France.
Kazatomprom, controlled by the state, is engaged in the mining of uranium, processing of rare metals, production and marketing of beryllium and tantalum products. Kazatomprom estimates its share in the global natural uranium mining market at 22% by the end of 2022. Kazakhstan annually supplies more than 45% of the world nuclear energy needs for uranium products.