Kazakhstan Takes Top Uranium Spot in 2009

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"[Kazakhstan's] uranium output leapt over 60% last year to reach some 13,900 tonnes"

Kazakhstan has laid claim to being the world's top uranium producing country in 2009. Provisional figures show that its uranium output leapt over 60% last year to reach some 13,900 tonnes, surpassing both Canada's and Australia's forecast production.

State-owned nuclear energy company KazAtomProm reported that by 21 December its Mining Company subsidiary had reached its annual target of producing 13,500 tonnes of uranium. It added that at least a further 400 tonnes would be produced by the end of the year. The total output of some 13,900 tonnes represents a 63% increase from the 8521 tonnes it produced in 2008, the company said.

There are currently 21 operating uranium mines in Kazakhstan producing uranium through the in-situ leach (ISL) method. KazAtomProm said the boost in production in 2009 was achieved by bringing new mines into operation and expanding existing production capacities.

Nurlan Ryspanov, vice president of KazAtomProm, said: "As far as the nuclear industry develops and supply from secondary sources diminishes, we are expecting a shortage of natural uranium in the world from 2016." He added, "To cover such anticipated deficit, Kazakhstan is planning to increase its uranium production to 18,000 tonnes by 2010. At that, Kazakhstan will be the top uranium producer in the world in the period of peak demand for uranium."

KazAtomProm said that it will start implementing new hi-tech projects in 2010, in particular "science-intensive and technology-intensive operations based on rare and rare-earth metals and elaboration of alternative energy installations" in Kazakhstan. In addition, the company plans to invest over KZT 3 billion ($20 million) during 2010 in social projects to develop uranium mining regions and adjacent areas.

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