Kazatomprom Starts Uranium Production

Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state nuclear holding company, has started production at two new in-situ leach uranium mines in the Kyzylorda region of southern Kazakhstan. The larger of the two mines, the Khorassan-1 mine, is scheduled to produce 180 mt of U308 in 2009 and to build to a design capacity of 3,000 mt/y in 2014. The smaller Irkol mine is expected to reach design capacity of 750 mt/y within 12 months.

The Khorassan-1 mine is operated by LLP Kyzylkum, with participation by Kazatomprom, a consortium of Japanese power generating companies (TEPCO, Marubeni Corp., Toshiba Corp., Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric and Kyushu Electric) and Canada-based Uranium One.

Capital expenditures to develop the mine totaled $432 million. Reserves are thought to be sufficient to support mine operations until 2053. Production from the mine is mostly intended for export to Japan’s nuclear power generation industry.

Construction of a $212-million, 500,000-mt/y sulphuric acid plant has commenced at the project site.

The Khorassan-1 mine is located on the Syr-Darya river in an undeveloped desert area. Project development included significant infrastructure construction. A 303-m long by 8-m-wide bridge was built over the river, along with 37 km of paved roads and reconstruction of 19.5 km of a regional highway. Three 35- and 110-kV power lines were erected, and an auxiliary railway spur and freight trans-shipment base were constructed at the regional administrative center of Zhanakorgan.

The Irkol mine is operated by Semizbai-U LLU, a joint venture of Kazatomprom and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. Mine life is projected at 25 years, with production destined for use in China’s nuclear power industry.

Kazatomprom is the Republic of Kazakhstan’s national operator for export of uranium and its compounds, rare metals and nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants. Company activities include uranium production, manufacture of nuclear fuel cycle products, and reactor construction. The company has more than 25,000 employees.

As featured in Womp 2009 Vol 05 - www.womp-int.com