BAKU, Azerbaijan, November 12. Uranium mining at the Kazakhstan’s South Tortkuduk plot by the KATCO, the joint venture between French Orano Mining and Kazatomprom (Kazakhstan’s national nuclear company), will begin at the end of 2023, a source at Orano told Trend.
“Kazakhstan is the world’s largest uranium producer.” Orano is present in the country through KATCO, a joint venture created in 1996 by Orano Mining (51 percent) and Kazatomprom (49 percent) to develop and utilize the uranium resources of Muyunkum and Tortkuduk in the Turkestan region, about 300 kilometers north of Shymkent,” according to the source.
According to the corporation, it now employs over 1,200 people and operates an ISR mine with an annual capacity of approximately 4,000 tons of uranium. Over the last 20 years, KATCO has produced more than 40,000 tons of uranium from the two deposits.
“In August 2022, KATCO and the Ministry of Energy in the Republic of Kazakhstan signed an amendment to the existing subsoil utilization contract to exploit the South Tortkuduk plot. Exploitation of this new plot should guarantee KATCO production for around fifteen years. Production from the new deposit is due to begin towards the end of 2023,” the source said.
The source pointed out that Orano Mining and the Kazakh National Company Kazatomprom signed a memorandum of cooperation on November 29, 2022.
“Through this memorandum, Orano Mining and Kazatomprom state their intention to maintain and strengthen their cooperation in the uranium mining industry, building on their existing successful partnership,” the company added.
As the chief operating officer of the Orano group previously stated at a meeting with the management of Kazakhstan’s Samruk-Kazyna JSC (Sovereign Wealth Fund), French Orano S.A. intends to expand areas of cooperation with Kazakhstan, including the implementation of joint strategic projects outside the country.
On September 29, 2023, Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom presented its strategy for uranium production for 2025. The Board of Directors of Kazatomprom approved the company’s strategy to increase uranium production volumes in 2025 to 100 percent of the level planned under subsoil use contracts.
Kazakhstan ranks second in the world in terms of proven reserves of natural uranium. About 14 percent of all proven world reserves are concentrated in the depths of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The country’s total proven reserves are estimated at more than 700,000 tons of uranium.
In 2009, Kazakhstan took first place in uranium production in the world and continues to maintain a leading position in the world market. Kazakhstan produces about 40 percent of the world’s uranium production. In 2021, the volume of uranium production amounted to 21,800 tons, according to the results of 2022 – 21,300 tons.