Uzbekistan’s Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Complex plans to increase uranium production in 2012

Uzbekistan’s Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Complex plans to increase uranium production in 2012

Uzbekistan, Tashkent, March 26 / Trend D.Azizov /

The Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine (NMMC) of Uzbekistan plans to increase uranium production by 1.7 times in 2012 compared to 2007, the general director of NMMC Kuvandik Sanakulov said in an article posted on the plant's website.

As previously reported, in 2007 uranium production in Uzbekistan increased by 0.5 per cent to 2270 tons and in subsequent years data on uranium mining were not disclosed.

At present the complex has six geo-technological mines of underground leaching, processing 13 uranium deposits with the depth of the ore bodies from 120 to 600 meters, the article says.

The deposits are characterised by low content of uranium, but a high content of carbonates making for extremely difficult mining and hydro-geological conditions.

The bulk of growth in uranium mining is planned to be secured due to new deposits where construction of mines which include the complete infrastructure is planned.

"According to the strategy of development of uranium production due to investments in construction and commissioning of seven new oil fields, modernisation and expansion of production, it is planned to increase by 1.7 times uranium production this year compared to 2007," the general director said.

As previously reported, the NMMC has a monopoly on the production, refining and export of uranium. Currently, the structure of the uranium production of the NMMC includes the hydrometallurgical plant N1 (HMP-1) in Navoi and three enterprises for production.

According to the State Committee on Geology, proven and estimated reserves of uranium amount to 185,800 tons, of which 138,800 tons are uranium of sandstone deposits and 47,000 tons of black shale. Black shale deposits have not yet been perfected.

In August 2009, Uzbekistan's State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources and the Chinese CGNPC Uranium Resources Co established a joint venture Uz-China Uran with authorised capital of $4.6 million to carry out geological exploration of uranium deposits on the perspective Boztau area in Central Kyzyl Kum. According to the State Committee, reserves of uranium at Boztau are estimated at 5500 tons. All mining facilities are of the black shale type.

In 2010-2011 a joint venture carried out prospecting in the contract area after which several uranium deposits were discovered. Data on proven uranium volumes were not disclosed. The JV plans to begin uranium production in 2013.

At present, NMMC has a programme to modernise the production of uranium, providing for expansion of existing mining and processing facilities, renewal of technological equipment, as well as construction of new mines worth $165 million. This programme is funded by NMMC's own funds, as well as the state budget and credit of the Uzbek banks.

Uzbekistan is not a consumer of uranium products and all produced uranium is exported.

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