Kazatomprom says no change to foreign agreements

June 12. Reuters

Kazakh uranium firm Kazatomprom, at the centre of investor scrutiny following a string of arrests in the strategic industry, sought to reassure foreign partners on Friday that it would honour all existing agreements.

Lying on a fifth of the world’s uranium reserves, Kazakhstan alarmed foreign investors last month when its security agents arrested the long-serving boss of Kazatomprom and a host of other senior officials.

In a statement on Friday, state-controlled Kazatomrpom said it held talks with officials from foreign companies including Canada’s Uranium One over the last two weeks to discuss cooperation.

“During those meetings, (our) partners stressed the strategic nature of our mutually beneficial relationship and their aspiration to continue cooperating in the nuclear sector,” said Kazatomprom, which aims to become the world’s biggest uranium company this year.

“Kazatomrpom for its part declared that none of the existing agreements would be changed. … All production plans are being carried out on time. All export supplies are being carried out according to plan.”

The arrest of Mukhtar Dzhakishev, who transformed Kazatomprom into a global player and signed most cooperation deals with foreign companies, has stirred long-standing divisions among Kazakhstan’s business and ruling elite.

The authorities have commented little on where he is being kept and the secrecy surrounding the case has raised concerns among foreign investors. Shares in Uranium One have fallen sharply.

Dzhakishev, sacked from the post of Kazatomprom president shortly before his arrest in late May, is accused of illegally gaining control over 60 percent of Kazakh uranium riches.

The KNB security service has quoted him as denying any wrongdoing. The new Kazatomprom boss, Vladimir Shkolnik, and the government have not publicly commented on the case.


* * *

Kazatomprom Says Deal With Uranium One ‘Inalterable’

June 12. Bloomberg

By Nariman Gizitdinov

Kazatomprom, the Kazakh state nuclear company whose former president is accused on embezzlement, said agreements with foreign investors including Toronto-based Uranium One Inc. are “inalterable.”

Kazatomprom officials met in the last two weeks with counterparts from companies including Uranium One, Japan’s Marubeni Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., France’s Areva SA, and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, Almaty-based Kazatomprom said in an e-mailed statement today.

The Kazakh National Security Committee last month accused former Kazatomprom President Mukhtar Dzhakishev of embezzling state shares of uranium deposits. Dzhakishev sold assets subsequently acquired by Uranium One. Shares of Uranium One fell the most in almost nine years after Dzhakishev’s arrest.

Under Dzhakishev, Kazatomprom planned to make Kazakhstan the world’s largest uranium producer. It bought 10 percent of Westinghouse Electric Co., the nuclear-reactor builder controlled by Toshiba Corp., as Dzhakishev sought to move Kazatomprom into generation and power-plant construction.

“Kazatomprom intends to increase its development pace as it understands its own responsibility to satisfy the growing demand for uranium,” Vladimir Shkolnik, the company’s president, said in today’s statement. Kazatomprom will talk about future cooperation with Canada’s Cameco Corp., Japan’s Toshiba Corp. and U.S.’s Westinghouse Electric Co. in “the nearest future,” the company said.

Kazakhstan has 15 percent of the world’s reserves of the metal, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Uranium One gained 1.15 rand, or 5.8 percent, to 20.95 rand ($2.62) as of 9:18 a.m. in Johannesburg trading.