Japan pushes forward with Uzbek uranium ambitions

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) will this week sign an agreement with an Uzbek mining company to secure a stake in a uranium exploration venture in the former soviet republic, The Japan Times reports.

JOGMEC, the Japanese government's energy exploration arm, has been in talks with the Uzbek Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources since 2009 when the two signed a joint-exploration agreement for sites in the Kyzyl-Kum desert region.

Now the Japanese company will launch a project with Uzbekistan's Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinant (NMMC), a state-owned gold and uranium miner.

The first five years will be exploration-based after which JOGMEC will seek mining concessions to import and export the product.

Japan has no uranium deposits of its own and is completely dependent on foreign supplies.

Only two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors are currently running but with projects moving forward and companies making moves to meet strict new safety laws, more plants may start humming again soon. The reactors, which supply about a third of Japan's energy, were shut down after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Creative Commons image by: Dave Proffer