Guest Post: Kazakhstan Now World's Largest Uranium Miner

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John C.K. Daly of OilPrice

Kazakhstan now World's Largest Uranium Miner

Kazakhstan’s international energy image is now that of one of the world’s rising oil exporters, an extraordinary feat given that, two decades ago its hydrocarbon output was beyond insignificant when the USSR collapsed. The vast Central Asian nation, larger than Western Europe,  has now quietly passed another energy milestone.

Kazakhstan produces 33 percent of world’s mined uranium, followed by Canada at 18 percent and Australia, with 11 percent of global output. Kazakhstan contains the world's second-largest uranium reserves, estimated at 1.5 million tons. Until two years ago Kazakhstan was the world's No. 3 uranium miner, following Australia and Canada.

Together the trio is responsible for about 62 percent of the world's production of mined uranium.

According to Kazakhstan’s State Corporation for Atomic Energy, Kazatomprom, during January-September, the country mined 13,957 tons of uranium. “The volume of uranium mining in the Republic of Kazakhstan (for January - September) comprised 13,957 tons, which is 11 percent higher than the same period last year." Even more impressive, Kazatomprom’s revenues soared 72 percent year-on-year. Kazatomprom is the state-owned Kazakh national operator for the export of uranium, as well as rare metals, nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants, special equipment, technologies, and dual-purpose materials.

To put Kazakhstan’s accomplishment in context, a mere five years ago Kazakhstan produced 5,279 tons of uranium.

While the March disaster at Japan’s Fuskuhima nuclear complex has caused several European nations to reassess their commitment to nuclear power, Kazakhstan’s regional markets seem assured in Asia’s rising economic powerhouses China and India. While Beijing has reacted to Fukushima by ordering thorough inspections of the nation’s nuclear power plants, China's Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense in its 11th Five-Year Plan for the Nuclear Industry announced China intended to produce 40 gigawatts of nuclear power electrical generating capacity within a decade, even though nuclear power currently accounts for just 1.4 percent of China’s electrical power generation.

If China follows through with its ambitious nuclear power plant construction plans the country will need an estimated 44 million pounds of uranium annually, as by 2020 the country will have a total of 77 planned and proposed new reactors. Of China's 11 current nuclear power plants, the oldest, Qingshan-1, only came online in 1991.

India’s nuclear ambitions parallel China’s. While nuclear power currently accounts for only 3-4 percent of the country’s electrical output, India has 19 planned and proposed nuclear power reactors on the drawing board.

But the specter of the Japanese nuclear crisis has even overshadowed Astana’s optimism.

Speaking at the Minex conference in Astana on 5-7April, Kazatomprom president Vladimir Shkol’nik stated that the Fukushima debacle would not greatly influence the Kazakh state atomic company’s plans.

Despite Shkol’nik’s optimism, immediately after the Fukushima disaster the world uranium spot price plummeted from over $70 per pound to just $49 per pound, but has since rebounded to roughly $55 in November.

But Kazakhstan is moving beyond the mere mining of uranium to producing nuclear fuel rods. On 4 November French Industry and Energy Minister Eric Besson signed a contract with the Kazakh government allowing France's Areva to open a nuclear fuel plant with Kazatomprom. A statement from Besson’s office noted, "This deal commits to the creation in Kazakhstan, the top global producer of uranium, of a nuclear fuel production plant dedicated to the Asian market. The construction of this plant could start as soon as the feasibility study is completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012." According to the agreement, the facility will consist of a new production line at Kazakhstan's ULBA metallurgical plant that will be 51 percent owned by Kazatomprom and 49 percent by Areva.

And flush with cash, next year Kazatomprom may buy into the Russian Federation’s Urals Electrochemical Integrated Plant (UEIP), the largest uranium enrichment facility within Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom. Last month Rosatom CEO Sergei Kirienko told journalists, "We are involved in purely technical procedures now, taking into account the organization and relevant restrictions (of a closed nuclear facility). We are moving within a set timetable. We have a plan - to complete all work in 2012. And we should begin working with Kazatomprom in 2012."

Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency released its 2011 “World Energy Outlook,” which states that if the world is serious about global warming, it should consider the continued use of nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With Kazakhstan’s oil exports currently running at 1.74 million barrels per day and the nation being now the world’s largest uranium miner, it would seem that Astana is going to continue to rake in the cash no matter what energy policies the world adopts in the short term.

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doomandbloom's picture

very much?

Bicycle Repairman's picture

"an extraordinary feat given that, two decades ago its hydrocarbon output was beyond insignificant when the USSR collapsed."

It hit "Hubbert's Peak" and never recovered.

rambler6421's picture

So Cameco isn't the best uranium stock anymore

Dr. Engali's picture

Is Kazakhstan any where near Bloomfukistan ?

fuu's picture

They are both west of Japan.

oddjob's picture

If it ends in 'stan' stay away

falak pema's picture

what if it ends in 'hardy'?

Azannoth's picture

So when does the West plan to Bomb Kazakhstan? They have clearly Nuclear Ambitions

Taint Boil's picture



We will do what ever Fox News and Drudge say ... notice how Drudge made a color picture of Russia flipping off USA into black and white one - just more manipulation of the sheep. Can anyone explain why they would do that?

Vergeltung's picture

to make your tiny brain hurt.

Taint Boil's picture

?? - I don't get it ................ oooh.

The Big Ching-aso's picture



They're probably gonna bomb Uranus first.    Where uranium comes from when ya think real hard.

falak pema's picture

If the blonde population of USA bombs Uranus it'll be to look for anus...if the brunette one does it'll be to look for of ben hur. Yahve, and baba mitzaa. 

Sorry, but we always forget the original americans, who only ask one question: why did that ass hole Columbum land in our continent; what did we do to deserve that, please god...?

I am of course saying this tongue in cheek. I have nothing against blondes and brunettes; on the contrary. 

doomandbloom's picture

How soon before the west try to liberate Khazakstan people from its uranium...i mean oppressive rulers...

the_magician's picture

They are working on that already. Lead by non other than Yo Blair.


The autocratic leader of oil rich Kazakhstan has recruited Tony Blair as an adviser, believing the former Prime Minister can help him win the Nobel Peace prize.



Gonna work on that Nobel Peace Prize first, it's the latest fashion scream for dictators-politicos who want to get on the world chessboard. And it's much cheaper and easier option, than releasing terrorists (Lockerbie), paying few billion to familes or just invade the country, kill the 'dictator' and then try to control the out of control 'rebels'.

falak pema's picture

the last time Blair shook hands with an was Q-daffy for JPM. Look what happened next. Just saying...

johny2's picture

Old Kazakhstan saying : He who laughs last, laughs best. 



The Big Ching-aso's picture



New Kazakhstan saying:     He who laughs first, laughs last, and laughs a lot in between.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



"This deal commits to the creation in Kazakhstan, the top global producer of uranium, of a nuclear fuel production plant dedicated to the Asian market. The construction of this plant could start as soon as the feasibility study is completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012."

What's the hurry?  It's not like the world is running out of cheap and easy oil.  They need to require some multi-decade environmental impact studies, etc.  Take their time, do it like us much smarter folk in America. 

SheepleLOVEcheddarbaybiscuits's picture

i thought borat said they were the largest potassium producers?

Dr. Engali's picture

India is never in the news lately. I wonder what is going on over there to add to global instability.

zonkie's picture

Sky rocketing inflation, faltering currency and ready to burst real estate bubble.

Schmuck Raker's picture

Signing trade deals with Afghanistan & Pakistan. Sorry, the truth isn't ALWAYS funny.

Iwanttoknow's picture

Also resolving border disputes with china.not buying our fighter jets.

HamyWanger's picture

Kazakhstan? Lol, is that even a country???

American bombers should just keep the natives on a leash and take everything in this shitty place's underground, like our Boys did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, etc. 

Natural resources, according to the Law of God, belong to the strongest, not those who by chance have been there for a while. 

Doc's picture

Law of God? That sounds like the Law of the Jungle... 

Actually wait, maybe god is a monkey and he made us all in his own image : O


Get fucked mate.  Your "boys" are a moral hazard, not to mention they are helping bankrupt the country where your "boys" live. That usually ends badly. 

zonkie's picture

To be fair HamyWanger was just being Borat style sarcastic, but everybody just voted him underground.. 

Eally Ucked's picture

Sorry, I will not invest there. As soon as all our fiats dissolve into oblivion, or earlier, they will nationalize all natural resources, btw I would do that now if I were them.

NEOSERF's picture

Which must mean that Cameco who mines quite a bit in Australia and has endured floods and other natural disasters has pulled back either voluntary or otherwise...

NuYawkFrankie's picture

Uugghh???  Kardashian - I assume it's Kim they're referring to - is now the world's largest uranium miner ?

I had no idea.... just goes to show!

proLiberty's picture

The west is setting itself up to become dependant upon a small number of sources for nuclear fuel just as it has done with crude oil.  This is especially shameful in light of how dangerous current reactor designs are.  We could be energy independent if we had the political will to develop the nuclear resources we have and especially to develop walk-away-safe reactors powered by thorium, of which there is plenty.


Joe Sixpack's picture

I own a few Khazakstanian tantalum/silver (bimetallic) commerative space coins. They are pretty cool, and contain around 27g of pure tantalum each (~ 14g sterling silver on the outer ring).

falak pema's picture

its a luck of the draw thing, those who have strategic RM and those who don't. Its time that the OECD countries started planning sustainable growth built on long term assets, like accessible RM and renewable energy; not mid east oil and Russian or Chinese rare earths and gas. Look at the picture of Commodity countries only Canada, Australia and S Africa are OECD and net surplus ones. I don't think that with the US profile it will be long net exporter in anything unless it changes its economic mantra pronto. Even for food...and that's saying something. If all arable land goes to frack and shale and corn gasoline.

TheJokingJollyRoger's picture

Does this mean that Russia will build more nukes?