Top uranium miner Kazatomprom to develop own rare metals deposit

Kazatomprom is the world’s largest uranium producer. (Image courtesy of Kazatomprom |Twitter .)

The world’s largest uranium producer, Kazatomprom (LON: KAP), will begin developing its own deposit of rare metals in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe province through its subsidiary Ulba Metallurgical Plant.

Kazatomprom’s unit, one of the world’s top beryllium, tantalum and niobium miners, will will be tasked with determining the potential of the Verkhny Irgiz deposit, for which Ulba has an exploration licence.

The uranium giant said it expects the project to provide its existing production with “its own mineral resource base, reduce the cost of final finished products, increase economic efficiency and create new jobs.”

Other than rare earth metals, Ulba Metallurgical Plant also produces uranium-based fuel bricks for nuclear power stations.

Kazatomprom, which accounts for about a third of global uranium supply, expects to produce this year between 20,500 – 21,500 tonnes of the commodity on a 100% basis and between 10,600 and 11,200 tonnes of uranium on an attributable basis. 

The company produced 11,373 tonnes of uranium last year, 4.1% lower year-on-year. Kazakhstan’s total uranium output was 21,227 tonnes, down 2.7% over 2021.

Uranium producers have been encouraged by a surge in yellowcake prices over the past year, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosting demand from non-Russian suppliers.

China has said it plans to build 150 new reactors by 2035. Japan also aims to boost nuclear capacity, as does South Korea.

In Europe, the UK plans to build one new nuclear plant every year to cover about 25% of electricity demand with nuclear power sources. France, which already relies on nuclear reactors for about 70% of its electricity, has committed to install 14 new plants, while the European Union has proposed counting nuclear plants as a green investment.