Kazakhs may be top uranium producer in 2009
ALMATY. February 10. KAZINFORM Kazakhstan's state-owned nuclear energy company could become the world's largest uranium producer by this year, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Kazatomprom Chairman Mukhtar Dzhakishev announced that the country's uranium output is expected to reach 11,935 tons in 2009, a more than 40 percent increase over the 8,521 tons produced last year, the statement said. The final figure could vary depending on the situation in global demand, Dzhakishev said. Uranium prices fell by 40 percent last year amid the global economic downturn, prompting producers to cut output and expenditure on developing new mines. A number of mines set to start operating later this year will be essential to hitting output targets, Dzhakishev said. Canada and Australia are also leading producers of uranium, which is used for nuclear power plants. According to the London-based World Nuclear Association, Canadian uranium production reached 9,477 tons in 2007, the latest full-year figure available, and has been declining recently. In Australia, uranium output reached 8,603 tons in 2007, but could increase to more than 11,000 tons by 2012-13, according to industry estimates. Planned production sites in Kazakhstan slated for opening in 2009 include the Khorasan-1 and Khorasan-2 mines, which will eventually have production capacities of 3,000 tons and 2,000 tons of uranium per year respectively, the company said. "By the middle of 2010, we will be able to complete the creation of the technical foundations necessary for boosting Kazakhstan's uranium output to 27,000 tons per year," he said, Kazinform refers to the Kazakhstan Embassy in the USA.