Cameco and KazAtomProm have agreed to restructure the Inkai jont venture, extending their cooperation in the Kazakh in-situ leach (ISL) uranium project until 2045. The agreement will see Kazatomprom increase its share of the joint venture to 60% with Cameco becoming a minority owner.
The agreement provides for annual production to be ramped up to 10.4 million pounds U3O8 (4000 tU) per year over three years, following the receipt of all required approvals. These include amendments to JV Inkai’s existing resource use contract that are expected to take 18-24 months to secure
The agreement includes provisions to make Cameco’s proprietary uranium refining technology available to Kazatomprom on a royalty-free basis, and grants KazAtomProm a five-year option to license Cameco’s uranium conversion technology for the purposes of constructing and operating a uranium conversion facility in Kazakhtsan.
The two companies will also complete a feasibility study to evaluate the design, construction and operation of a uranium refinery in Kazakhstan, capable of producing 6000 tU per year as uranium trioxide. Such a facility would be owned 71.67% by KazAtomProm and 28.33% by Cameco, and Cameco’s interest in JV Inkai would increase to 42.5% on commissioning of the refinery.
With 12% of the world’s uranium resources, Kazakhstan is the world’s leading uranium producer. It produced about 23,800 tU – 39% of world production – in 2015.
Kazakhstan produced 6000 tU between January to March and plans to increase output for the whole of 2016 to 24,080 tonnes, up from 22,800 tonnes last year. The Central Asian country’s energy minister, Kanat Bozumbayev, has been quoted by local media as saying Kazakhstan’s share of the world uranium market is to be retained alongside creation of a “vertically-integrated complex” for the nuclear fuel cycle.
SOURCE – World nuclear news