China's CGNPC Seeks To Boost Kazakh Uranium Output

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"The move is a part of Kazakhstan's push to become the world's largest uranium producer..."

State-run nuclear firms from China and Kazakhstan plan to increase uranium output at their Kazakh joint ventures and build power plants in partnership with the Central Asian state, company executives said on Wednesday.

The move is a part of Kazakhstan's push to become the world's largest uranium producer and expand its presence in energy-hungry markets such as China and Japan.

"We intend to jointly develop a deposit in Kazakhstan with total reserves of about 40,000 tons of uranium," Zhou Zhenxing, General Manager of China Guandong Nuclear Power Co (CGNPC), told a news briefing. China plans to import a total of 24,200 tons of Kazakh uranium between 2008 and 2012, he said.

CGNPC's existing joint ventures with Kazakh state nuclear firm Kazatomprom produce about 100 tons a year, but plan to significantly increase output, Kazatomprom said.

Kazatomprom Chief Executive Mukhtar Dzhakishev told the same briefing the two companies would jointly build "a few dozen" nuclear power plants in China. "Kazatomprom is ready to supply the reactors CGNPC is building (with fuel)," Dzhakishev said.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic to the west of China, holds a fifth of the world's uranium reserves. Its push to develop uranium is part of a broader strategy to diversify the economy, which is heavily dependent on oil.

Analysts say Kazatomprom is now on track to edge out Canada's Cameco Corp this year as the world's No. 1 producer.

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