(AP) - Kazakh and Russian officials on Thursday inaugurated a joint venture that will mine uranium to make fuel for Russian-designed nuclear reactors, Kazakhstan's national atomic company said.
The Zarechnoye mine in southern Kazakhstan contains 19,000 tons of uranium and is expected to produce 1,000 tons of uranium annually by 2009, KazAtomProm said.
Under deals struck earlier this year Kazakhstan and Russia are planning to create two more joint ventures: one to build a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan with a capacity of 300 megawatts and another, in Russia, that will enrich uranium for atomic power stations.
The cost of the projects has not been announced. KazAtomProm and Russia's Tekhsnabeksport each own 49.33 in the Zarechnoye venture. Russia's Atomredmetzoloto and Kyrgyzstan's Kara Balta ore-mining complex each own a 0.67 percent stake in the project, reports Trend.
Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov and Russian Atomic Agency Chief Sergei Kiriyenko launched the project in a special inaugurating ceremony Thursday.
Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, has 30 percent of the world's proven uranium reserves and is currently the third-largest uranium producer, according to KazAtomProm.
KazAtomProm plans to boost production more than fourfold by 2010 to 15,000 metric tons and become the world's largest uranium producer. In 2005 it produced 4,300 metric tons of uranium.