TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, November 6. The French Orano company will invest up to $500 million in uranium mining and processing in Uzbekistan, Uzbek Minister of Mining and Geology Bobir Islamov told reporters on the sidelines of the 16th Verona Eurasian Economic Forum in Samarkand, Trend reports.
The official noted that Orano is currently carrying out geological exploration, and a preliminary feasibility study of the project will be prepared by the end of this year.
“The strategic agreement stipulates that two additional areas in the Tamdyn district of Uzbekistan’s Navoi region will be explored by the French company. Everything will be decided, of course, by a feasibility study, but now everything is going very positively,” Islamov said.
The minister stressed that the existing volumes of uranium production have already found their targeted markets.
“As the production of nuclear fuel increases, Uzbekistan will make a decision on exports based on the price situation in the world,” he added.
Islamov also reported an increase in the volume of uranium exports in all directions in 2023, while emphasizing the importance of diversifying supplies.
Meanwhile, a trilateral agreement has been signed between Uzbekistan’s State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources, Uzbekistan’s Navoiuran state enterprise, and the French Orano in November 2022.
The document provides for the intensification of joint work on the extraction and processing of uranium, as well as building an industrial chain for the production of nuclear fuel.
Moreover, Nurlikum Mining, a joint venture for the exploration and production of uranium in the Navoi region, established by Orano and the State Committee for Geology, has been operating in Uzbekistan since December 2019.
At the end of 2021, 3,526 tons of uranium were mined in Uzbekistan. In 2022–2030, production is planned to be doubled to 7,100 tons.