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Kazakhstan proposes international uranium exchange

Kazakhstan is proposing the creation of what amounts to an international uranium market, the president of the country’s national uranium producer said on Tuesday.

The central Asian state has the world’s second largest proven uranium reserves after Australia. “The uranium market is a closed market, and we do not have market prices. To address this problem we are currently working to set up a [uranium] fund,” said Mukhtar Dzhakiyev, president of the Kazatomprom company. He said it would comprise key uranium producers and consumers, as well as the financial institutions behind the project. “The plan is to deposit uranium in the fund and receive shares in exchange for that,” he said, adding that all the companies would be entitled to one kilogram of uranium each. The next stage will be to create a uranium trading floor where share quotes will serve as "uranium market prices."

Dzhakiyev said preliminary agreements had already been reached with the French-German firm Areva, Canada’s Cameco Corporation, and Russian uranium producers, as well as with a number of Chinese, Japanese, EU, and US nuclear power plants. He said if everything goes according to plan, the “fund” could be established next year.

He said earlier Kazakhstan was planning to increase uranium production in 2008 by 42% to 9,400 tons. In 2007, the country produced 6,600 tons of uranium. By 2015, Kazakhstan expects to produce one-third of the world’s uranium output. (