Kazatomprom Plans to Increase Uranium Production to 25,000 tons/year and BHP Olympic Dam Expansion Unlikely Because of Australian Tax

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Kazakhstan’s uranium deposit map.

1. Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s national uranium company, plans to raise future production to 25-26,000 tons of uranium a year, the company’s vice president Nurlan Ryspanov said on Friday.

Kazatomprom produced 14,000 of uranium in 2009, making Kazakhstan the largest uranium producer in the world. The company plans to produce 18,000 tons in 2010. Kazatomprom reserves and production facilities allow a production level of 25-26,000 tons, But this will depend on market conditions and demand from the nuclear industry.

2. Canada’s Cameco Corp. and Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom aim to launch a uranium-conversion plant in Kazakhstan in 2016-2017.

3. Expansion at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Olympic Dam mine, the world’s largest uranium deposit, is unlikely to proceed because of the Australian government’s planned mine profit tax, Morgan Stanley said.

* The expansion may cost between $20 billion and $40 billion

* Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd plans to introduce a 40 percent tax from 2012 on mine profits

* Expanding the mine would take 11 years and would increase copper output almost fourfold to 750,000 metric tons a year, boost gold production eightfold and uranium by almost fivefold

4. A world uranium forecast that I made at the end of 2009, looks like it should adjust Kazakhstan higher to about 17000-18000 tons for 2010. Namibia is more likely to get closer in coming years to 26,000 tons (the previous high forecast for 2011-2020) and Australia is more likely to underperform. Canada is looking good for the high end forecast for 2011-2020 with the Cameco target of 40 million pounds by 2018 and the Cigar Lake mine back on track.

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