05 September 2019

French Orano will start mining uranium in Uzbekistan

The company and the State Committee for Geology agreed to create a joint venture. Orano will own 51%.

French Orano will mine uranium in Uzbekistan, to the company’s press release. A joint venture will be created specifically for this, in which 51% will be owned by the French side. The remaining 49% will be owned by the state through the State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources.

The signed agreement formalizes the desire of both parties to work together on uranium mining projects in the Navoi region, in particular, the Kyzylkum desert.

Drilling operations will be carried out here, which will improve the classification of resources already determined by the State Geology Committee and discover new ones. The first work on the field is planned to begin in the first half of 2020.

The fact that Orano plans to create a joint venture with Uzbekistan in the field of nuclear energy became known at the end of 2018, when President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited France.

According to the Financial Times, Uzbekistan is the seventh largest uranium producer in the world. In 2017, Uzbekistan sold 2.15 million pounds of U3O8 equivalent to the United States. This is the fifth indicator among all US uranium imports. In the first six months of 2018, Uzbekistan sold uranium for $ 106 million.

In this case, the uranium from Uzbekistan is one of the cheapest – the average price of $ 37.7 per pound U3O8 equivalent. Cheaper only in Russia – $ 31.5 per pound. Kazakhstan, for example, sells for $ 38.3, Canada for $ 40.6, Australia for $ 42.4.

According to the same FT, the presence of own uranium opens up wide opportunities for Uzbekistan in nuclear energy, which are planned to be achieved through the construction of nuclear power plants.