Kazakhstan Says Growth in Uranium Production Will Slow Next Year
Kazakhstan, the world's biggest uranium producer, plans to increase production of the nuclear fuel by about 2 percent in 2012, compared with 10 percent this year, according to state-owned company Kazatomprom, Bloomberg reported.
Long-term growth in the central Asian nation's uranium production may be affected by the crisis in Japan, Industry and New Technologies Deputy Minister Duisenbai Turganov said today in Astana. The ministry has drafted a bill seeking "to regulate uranium output," he said in an interview, without elaborating.
Countries including China, Germany and the U.S. are reviewing atomic energy plans after the world's worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986. The disaster in Japan has spurred speculation that construction of nuclear generating capacity may slow, and with it demand for uranium.
Kazakhstan plans to produce almost 20,000 metric tons of uranium next year, Serik Kozhakhmetov, chief executive officer of Kazatomprom's Institute of High Technologies, told reporters in Astana today. Kazatomprom CEO Vladimir Shkolnik said last month Kazakhstan's uranium output would rise by 10 percent this year to 19,600 metric tons. The country can boost uranium production by as much as 30 percent in the short term if demand warrants, Kozhakhmetov said. Current plans are to produce 27,000 to 28,000 tons of uranium by 2020, he said.
Kazakhstan is followed by Canada and Australia as leading uranium producers, according to the World Nuclear Association. Kazakhstan has 15 percent of the world's reserves of the metal, trailing Australia with 23 percent, according to the association's website.