Kazakhstan Cuts Uranium Production By 10%
CEO of Kazatomprom Askar Zhumagaliyev has announced on Tuesday that uranium production in Kazakhstan will be cut by approximately 10% due to long-lasting recovery on uranium market.
As the company’s press office informed, this will amount to a volume exceeding 2,000 tonnes of uranium or more than 5 million lb U3O8 against planned target in 2017. In whole, this is equal to 3% of the total global uranium production (based on 2015 UxC Consulting figures).
Uranium production in Kazakhstan is carried out by Kazatomprom’s daughter and joint enterprises together with international partners. The exact production volumes for each mine and JV were determined and approved by their respective management boards. Meanwhile, the reduced volume at the enterprises varies, but consolidated indicator does not exceed 10%. These decisions were based on a strategic review of the current oversupplied uranium market, and the unique circumstances and economics of each operation. These adjustments of production levels are also consistent with the provisions of Kazakhstan’s sub-soil use agreements governing each operation.
“While the outlook for nuclear energy growth continues as strong as it has been in many years, the realities of the near-term uranium market remain in oversupply. Kazatomprom, and its joint venture partners, have had to make responsible decisions in light of these market challenges. These strategic Kazakh mineral assets are far more valuable to our shareholders and stakeholders being left in the ground for the time being, rather than adding to the current oversupply situation. Their greater value will instead be realized when produced into improved markets in the coming years,” Zhumagaliyev says.
Even with these reductions, Kazatomprom will continue to lead global uranium production and support the growth of nuclear energy around the world. No existing customer contractual commitments are impacted by these strategic decisions.
Kazakhstan has been an important source of uranium for more than 50 years. Over 2001 to 2013 production rose from 2022 to about 22,550 tonnes U per year, making Kazakhstan the world’s leading uranium producer. Mine development has continued with a view to further increasing annual production by 2018, 23,400 tU being the target for 2015. Capacity is around 25,000 tU/yr, but in October 2011 Kazatoprom announced a cap on production of 20,000 tU/yr, which was evidently disregarded. Of its 17 mine projects, five are wholly owned by Kazatomprom and 12 are joint ventures with foreign equity holders, and some of these are producing under nominal capacity. In 2013, 9402 tU was attributable to Kazatomprom itself – 16% of world production, putting it slightly ahead of Cameco, Areva and ARMZ-Uranium One.