Kazakhstan, the world's third-biggest uranium miner, plans to surpass Canada and Australia to become the biggest producer in 2010, a year earlier than planned, as demand and prices for the radioactive metal surge.
„The company expects output to be higher than planned in 2010 and may reach 18,800 metric tons, or about a third of world output, as we intensify production at new mines,” said Mukhtar Dzhakishev, head of state-run mining company Kazatomprom in an interview in Almaty. Global uranium demand was 66,000 tons in 2004, according to the World Nuclear Association. About 40,000 tons are produced from mines, with the balance - called secondary supply –coming from demolished Russian nuclear weapons and stockpiles. The association expects secondary supply to run out in 2013. Rising oil and gas prices have bolstered the case for nuclear energy. Power producers are paying record prices for uranium to run plants that produce 16% of the world's electricity. Russia plans to make nuclear power the source of 25% of its needs by 2030, from 16% now, creating a state-run company to compete with Paris-based Areva SA. „We expect national production to reach 7,300 metric tons this year,” versus 5,279 tons last year, and 15,500 tons in 2009, Dzhakishev said.
A venture between Areva SA, the world's largest maker of nuclear power stations, and Kazakhstan's state-owned Kazatomprom, may reach annual production of 3,000 tons by 2011. „Katko, our joint venture with the French company, developed the necessary infrastructure for the Tortkuduk mine, and plans to produce 2,000 metric tons of uranium by 2011,” Dzhakishev said. „We also consider the possibility to double output up to 1,000 tons a year at the other venture's mine, called Yuzhniy Moyinkum.” Areva and Kazatomprom started up Yuzhniy Moyinkum in June, planning to produce 500 tons of uranium in 2007. The mine has reserves of 27,000 tons. Areva's mines in Canada and Niger produce about 7,000 tons a year, equal to a fifth of the fuel used by the world's reactors, according to the company's Web site. It also explores for uranium in Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The Inkai venture between Canada's Cameco Corp., the world's largest producer, and Kazatomprom may reach annualized production of 2,000 tons in 2010, Dzhakishev said. Appak, a venture between Kazatomprom and Japan's Sumitomo Corp. and Kansai Electric Power Co., is scheduled to produce 1,000 tons in 2010. More than 50% of the world's uranium output comes from four companies (Bloomberg)