Orano: Kazakhstan: new mining permit granted to KATCO
PARIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Regulatory news:
KATCO, the Kazakh-French joint venture between Orano Mining and NAC Kazatomprom JSC, and the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan have signed an amendment to the contract for the use of the existing underground, which allows the industrial development of the southern parcel of Tortkuduk of the Muyunkum Uranium Deposit. The exploitation of this new plot should ensure the production of KATCO for about 15 years.
The South Tortkuduk uranium plot, with estimated uranium reserves of 46,000 metric tons, was discovered and delineated by KATCO geologists. It is located between the two sites – Tortkuduk and Muyunkum – which KATCO has operated for over 20 years, producing over 40,000 tonnes of uranium since production began.
The South Tortkuduk project will be operated, as is the case with the existing mines, by ISR1 technology and will rely on the expertise of the KATCO teams who have developed and operated one of the largest ISR mines in the world. Production from the new field is expected to begin in 18 months.
Given the work required to commission this new plot, the total production of the JV KATCO could be limited to approximately 65% of its nominal capacity (approximately 2,600 tonnes of uranium per year) for the next two years, with an estimated return to full production level of around 4,000 tonnes of uranium per year in 2026 at the earliest.
Philippe Knoche, CEO of Orano, said: “This important decision is part of the strategic agreement signed in 2017 between Orano and our partner Kazatomprom. This amendment to the contract for the use of the existing subsoil gives KATCO long-term prospects for its uranium production. Orano and Kazatomprom share many of the same common goals, including the goal of being responsible miners developing the best mining techniques in terms of environmental protection and operational performance, in order to contribute to the production of electricity at low carbon emissions and ensuring security of supply for our customers.”
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Created in 1996, KATCO, the joint venture between Orano Mining (51%) and NAC Kazatomprom JSC (49%), successfully produces uranium by the in-situ recovery (ISR) method on the Muyunkum deposit located in the Turkestan region, about 300 kilometers north of Shymkent. Today the company employs around 1,200 people and runs one of the largest ISR operations in the world with an annual capacity of 4,000 tons of uranium.
1 In Situ Recovery: the principle of in situ recovery consists of injecting a leaching solution into the deposit without extracting the host rock