Nuclear roundup – Russian Uranium Production and Indian Nuclear Plants

1. The Russian uranium mining company Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) plans to buy uranium assets in Namibia

In 2008, Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), Russia’s leading uranium producer, planned to increase production in Russia and Kazakhstan by 12% to 4,300 metric tons (for 2009)

ARMZ manages all of Russia’s uranium mining assets and also participates in uranium production in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan. The company is developing cooperation with Armenia, Canada, Mongolia, Namibia and Ukraine. It is owned by Atomenergoprom, which is part of Rosatom.

ARMZ aims to increase uranium production six-fold (up to 20,000 tons per year) by 2024 and become the world’s leader in uranium mining.

Russia’s total uranium reserves are significantly more than 1 million tons, the head of the Rosatom nuclear corporation said.

Sergei Kiriyenko said Russia had 575,000 tons of recoverable uranium reserves and 875,000 tons of proven reserves.

He added that including uranium stocks in storage, total reserves exceeded 1 million tons.

Elkon Mining Scheme

He did not specify how much uranium was currently in storage, saying that the information was classified, but indicated that there was sufficient uranium supplies to run current and future nuclear power plants for the next 60 years.

Kiriyenko said new uranium fields would be developed, in particular one in South Yakutia

ARMZ plans to increase uranium production at existing mines and mines already under construction to 8,000 tonnes per year. These include mines run by the Priargun Mining and Chemicals Association, CJSC Dalur and OJSC Khiagda. ARMZ also plans to build new mines in Yakutia (CJSC Elkon Mining) and the Trans-Baikal region (CJSC Olovskaya Mining, CJSC Gornoye) with overall capacity for 6,400 tonnes per year. In addition, ARMZ plans to increase uranium mine production by the Zarechnoye and Akbastau joint ventures in Kazakhstan to 5,000 tonnes per year.
ARMZ said its uranium resources totaled 564,200 tonnes, and were the world’s second biggest. The Elkon province in Yakutia holds 57% of the resources and should be producing 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year by 2024. Elkon should be producing up to 30% of Russia’s mined uranium by 2020.

Russia’s state uranium miner plans to invest 203.6 billion roubles ($7.4 billion) by 2015 to fund a massive expansion plan as demand from the nuclear power sector grows.

The uranium reserve at the Yuzhnaya site is estimated to exceed 250,000 tU. The total construction cost of the mine is currently estimated to be US$245 million, and the target date for the commissioning of the mine and the first shipment is expected to take place in 2009, leading to the full production phase (1,000 tU per year, as U3O8) around 2015.

15 page pdf on the Elkon uranium region

Mining of the Elkon uranium deposit in Yakutia is to start in 2010, according to Techsnabexport director general Vladimir Smirnov. Five years later, full production of 5000 t/a is to be attained. Exploration of the deposit is completed, he said. Reserves are sufficient for a 70 year lifetime of the mine. Total resources are estimated at 600,000 t uranium. (RIA Novosti Dec. 13, 2006)

A key part of the plans [to increase Russian uranium production] will be start of production at Elkonsky Gorst, a deposit in south Sakha [Yakutia], that has proven resources of 342,000 tons, Vladimir Bavlov, deputy head of the Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency said. “As of now, the infrastructure around Elkonsky Gorsk is in place. We expect it to mine annually 3,000 tons in 10 years, and 6,000 tons in 15 years,” Bavlov said. (Moscow Times Feb. 28, 2006)

Sakha is the largest republic in the Russian Federation. In the Yakutia region, between Siberia and Russia’s Far East, it spans three time zones, but has less than one million inhabitants. The Elkon area of southern Yakutia has reported resources of 320,000 tonnes of uranium in eight deposits, representing about 6% of world reserves.

EMMC’s output would ramp up from 2013 to reach 3000 tonnes of uranium per year in 2015 and a design capacity of 5000 tonnes per year by 2024. Such a capacity would make it Russia’s largest uranium mining complex, capable of producing up to one-quarter of the uranium consumed by the country’s nuclear power plants. French, Japanese, South Korean and Indian companies have already expressed an interest in the development of the Elkon uranium deposit.

Russia would mine 60 to 70 percent of its uranium needs by 2015, with a further 30 percent coming from joint ventures in CIS countries.

2. Rosatom is planning to construct seven or eight floating nuclear power plants by 2015. The first has been under construction since April 2007 with intended completion in 2010 to supply the Severodvinsk region, and the second is planned for 2012 commissioning at Pevek on the Chukotka peninsula in Russia’s Far East. Each has two 35 MWe KLT-40S nuclear reactors. Five will be used by Gazprom for offshore oil and gas field development and for operations on the Kola and Yamal peninsulas. Another was planned for Kamchatka region, also in the far east of the country. The floating plants destined for Yakutia are expected to employ smaller ABV reactors.

3. The fifth nuclear reactor of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-5) at Rawatbhatta, with a capacity of 220 MWe, reached criticality at 12.51 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009. This is the 18th nuclear power reactor to be commissioned in the country. With its commissioning, the total nuclear power-generation capacity now stands at 4,340 MWe.

The reactor would start working at full capacity by the end of December 2009 or the first week of January 2010.

Mr. Jain said, “Commissioning of the sixth reactor at RAPS is in the final stage. We will be ready for loading the fuel into the reactor in the first week of December. Ten days after the fuel is loaded, RAPS-6 will go critical.” It would also use fuel from Russia as part of the Separation Plan and, hence come under the IAEA safeguards. RAPS-6 would start generating its entire 220 MWe in February 2010.

The fourth reactor at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka would be commissioned before the end of this financial year, that is, before March 31, 2010, Mr. Jain said.

However, Kaiga-4, with a capacity of 220 MWe, will use indigenous natural uranium fuel from Jaduguda in Jharkhand.

4. Russian uranium miner Atomredmetzoloto JSC (ARMZ) has offered to buy Toronto-based Khan Resources, which owns a controlling stake in a uranium project in Mongolia.

The Dornod project is expected to have a mine life of 15 years, and could produce an average of three-million pounds of the nuclear fuel, at $23,22/lb, according to the study

5. uranium explorer Impact Minerals will raise A$5-million through a share placement, to accelerate the exploration of its Botswana uranium project.

Impact’s prospecting licence in Botswana covers 350 km of the strike extension of rocks that host many significant uranium deposits throughout southern Africa, including Kayelekera in Malawi, and Letlhakane in Botswana. Impact’s targets in Botswana had the potential to host large deposits of uranium mineralisation.