Kazakhstan Taps Ex-minister To Head State Nuclear Firm

May 20, 2009. Nasdaq

Kazakhstan Taps Ex-minister To Head State Nuclear FirmKazakhstan on Thursday put forward a former industry and trade minister to head the Central Asian state’s nuclear power firm, Kazatomprom.

Prime Minister Karim Masimov told reporters in the capital Astana that Vladimir Shkolnik was the government’s choice to head the key state company, making his confirmation a virtual certainty.

“We will recommend that Vladimir Sergeyevich (Shkolnik) head the company Kazatomprom,” Masimov said.

An ex-Soviet state bordering Russia and China, Kazakhstan holds almost 20% of the world’s uranium reserves and aims to be the number one producer by 2010, overtaking Australia and Canada.

The holder of the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan returned its nuclear weapons to Moscow and is keen to be seen as a global player in issues of nuclear security.

Last year, Kazakhstan mined around 8,500 metric tons of uranium and plans to extract 11,900 tons in 2009, according to Kazatomprom.