ASTANA – KATCO, a joint venture of the French Orano Mining and Kazatomprom national atomic company, will start mining uranium at Kazakhstan’s South Tortkuduk site at the end of 2023, Trend.az reported on Nov. 12, citing a source at Orano multinational nuclear fuel cycle company.
As the world’s largest uranium producer, Kazakhstan hosts Orano through KATCO, established in 1996 with 51% ownership by Orano Mining and 49% by Kazatomprom. KATCO develops and utilizes the uranium resources of Muyunkum and Tortkuduk in the Turkistan Region, about 300 kilometers north of Shymkent.
KATCO, employing over 1,200 people, currently operates an in-situ recovery (ISR) mine with an annual capacity of approximately 4,000 tons of uranium, producing over 40,000 tons in the past 20 years.
In August 2022, KATCO and the Kazakh Energy Ministry amended the subsoil utilization contract to exploit the South Tortkuduk plot, ensuring production for around fifteen years.
Orano Mining and Kazatomprom signed a memorandum of cooperation on Nov. 29, 2022, stating their intention to strengthen their partnership in the uranium mining industry.
At a Nov. 1 meeting with the Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund’s management, Orano Chief Operating Officer Nicolas Maes revealed the company’s plans to expand cooperation with Kazakhstan, including joint strategic projects outside the country.
On Sept. 29, Kazatomprom presented its strategy to increase uranium production volumes to 100 percent of the level planned under subsoil use contracts in 2025.
Kazakhstan has around 14% of all proven world reserves, estimated at over 700,000 tons of uranium. The country contributes about 40% to the world’s uranium production.