Uranium Mining in Kyrgyzstan

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"The region has a rich uranium exploration history."

Kyrgyzstan (the Kyrgyz Republic) is one of five central Asian democratic republics previously part of the Soviet Union and a founding member of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). The country is landlocked in central Asia, with neighboring countries that include 2009's leading uranium-producing nation in the world—Kazakhstan, as well as China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan is rich in mineral resources in addition to uranium that include substantial deposits of gold, coal, lead, zinc, antimony and other rare earth metals.

The region has a rich uranium exploration history, commencing with high-quality geological mapping in the 1930s, followed by Soviet identification of uranium mineralization—both visually and by ground radiometric surveys—throughout Batken Oblast in the 1940s and 1950s. The ground radiometric data was augmented by regional airborne radiometric surveys in 1973, covering 2,315 sq. km. The Mailuu-Suu district, in the Jalal-Abad Province in southern Kyrgyzstan, was a significant Soviet uranium mining area where >10,000 tons of uranium was produced from 1946–1967. The Kara Balta Mining Combine was set up in the 1950s to mine and treat the ore.

Kyrgyzstan's uranium geology is similar to Kazakhstan's with the Shu-Sarysu and Sudaraya uranium deposits in South Kazakhstan totaling over 1 million tons (Mts.) uranium, representing a significant portion of known global recoverable resources in the region. Sedimentary rocks in the Fergana Valley host significant "sandstone-style" or "roll-front" uranium deposits. Uranium from these deposits is considered to have been shed from primary uranium occurrences in the Alay mountain range.

Kyrgyzstan is a free market economy and WTO member, providing the freedom to transfer funds, export products and exchange currency. Four years ago, the government made steady strides in controlling substantial fiscal deficit, nearly closing the gap between revenues and expenditures, before boosting expenditures more than 20% in 2007–2008.

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