Over May 11-12, an informational press tour inside the production facilities of NAK Kazatomprom JSC occurred, which was devoted to the opening of the new uranium mine – Vostochnyi Mynkuduk. On May 12, in the village of Kyzemshek, located in South-Kazakhstan oblast (SKO), Mukhtar Djakishev, president of Kazatomprom, and Sozakbai Abdikulov, the akim (administrative head of a city or region) of Suzak district in SKO, jointly participated in the official opening of the mine, the reserves of which are expected to be 22 thousand tons of uranium, as per data supplied by Kazatomprom. In 2007, production volume of one thousand tons of uranium concentrate is expected. This is the first step of the company in its implementation of the program: “15,000 Tons of Uranium by 2010.”
A shortage of energy resources and increasingly depleted reserves of oil and gas are forcing more and more developed countries to reorient towards nuclear energy. Such countries as the USA, China, India, Russia, and those in Europe, in which energy consumption continually grows year after year, are becoming active in this direction. The development of new technologies providing secure construction and operation of nuclear power stations allow the world to optimistically consider the future of atomic energy. The populations of the most developed countries are more frequently speaking in favor of reliably operating, effective, and ecologically safe nuclear energy – understanding that in the near future it shall become a necessity. According to the prognosis of analysts from all over the world, the price for this raw material [uranium] will only increase due to the expectation of a uranium deficit. The shortage of uranium will already become noticeable by 2012. Already, at this time one pound of uranium (triuranium octaoxide – U3O8) sells from US$41.5 to US$44. In comparison with 1998, the price has jumped by more than six times.
Kazakhstan, as is popularly known, has reserves of more than 1.1 mln tons of uranium ore, taking second place in the world as regards explored reserves of this metal. The country also takes third place as far as production, following Canada and Australia. After researching potential demand on the uranium market for the upcoming several decades, Kazatomprom came up with a program for the intensive development of uranium extraction and production. The company plans on becoming a leader in the global uranium market over the next four years. By the close of 2008, they intend to build and launch seven mines, with an annual production capacity of 1,000-2,000 tons each (Central Mynkuduk – 2000 tons of annual production, Southern Inkai – 2000 tons, Irkol – 750 tons, Kharason – 2000 tons, Western Mynkuduk – 1000 tons, and Budenovskoye – 1000 tons).
Taking into account current global trends, Kazakhstan has every chance in becoming a key exporter of refined uranium products. According to Mr. Djakishev, his team is building a vertically integrated company, and seeks not to be a supplier of uranium ore, but of enriched uranium. The country will be able to profit from the sale of this value-added product. On the day of the opening of Vostochnyi Mynkuduk mine, Mr. Djakishev stated, “The plan of Kazatomprom to become the number one company is undoubtedly possible. I believe that our competitors have already accepted this. Nobody can doubt it. The launch of this first 1,000-ton-per-year mine, Vostochnyi Mynkuduk, is the first step in the implementation of the program,