Press Release: The Opening of Khorassan-1 Uranium Mine
Zhanakorgan District, Kyzylorda region
Karim Masimov, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, has led the opening ceremony, within the Khorassan-1 site of the Khorassan North Deposit (in the Zhanakorgan District of the Kyzylorda Region), of the first in-situ uranium mine, in Kazakhstan, to feature a production capacity of 3,000 tonnes of uranium per annum. The commissioning of the Khorassan-1 Mine is an important event in the social-and-economic life of the Kyzylorda Region and is another major capital investment project implemented by Kazatomprom and supported by foreign companies.
Amongst officials taking part in the ceremony were Mr. Aslan Musin, the Executive Head of the Presidential Executive Office, Mr. Serik Akhmetov, the Vice Prime Minister, Mr. Sauat Mynbaev, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Bolatbek Kuandykov, the Akim (governor) of the Kyzylorda Region, and Mr. Moukhtar Dzhakishev, the President of Kazatomprom.
Also present at the opening were official foreign delegations led by Mr. Sigeo Natsui, the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Hideo Morimoto, the Representative of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mrs. Margaret Skok. Other guests included executives of shareholding companies, namely those of TEPCO, Marubeni Corp, Toshiba Corporation, Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric and Kyushu Electric from Japan as well as Uranium One from Canada. Japan's national financial and credit institutions were represented by executives of JBIC (the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation), NEXI (the Japanese Agency for Insuring Export and Foreign Investment Operations) and the Mizuho Corporate Bank.
All operations at the mine are being implemented by LLP Kyzylkum, which is controlled by Kazatomprom, a consortium of Japanese power generating companies (TEPCO, Marubeni Corp., Toshiba Corporation, Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric and Kyushu Electric) and the Uranium One Company of Canada. Production from the mine is mostly intended for satisfying the needs of the nuclear power generation industry of Japan.
Construction of the mine was conducted within a relatively short period, with the time since the beginning of mine construction operations through to the inception of pilot-industrial operations taking only 3 years; the average world-wide time for construction of similar facilities is 5-6 years. As per design, after the mine reaches its ultimate capacity in 2014, its output will total 3,000 tonnes of uranium per annum. Production throughput, on a year-by-year basis, is as follows:
2009: 180 tonnes
2010: 1,000 tonnes
2011: 1,500 tonnes
2012: 2,000 tonnes
2014: 3,000 tonnes.
As of April 1, 2009, 21 000 tonnes of uranium reserves in Khorassan-1 site (Khorassan North Deposit) had been confirmed by, and registered with, the National Register of Mineral Resources. In accordance with all plans, uranium will be extracted by means of the in-situ leaching technique (ISL) with operations lasting until 2053. Total investment, so far, has reached more than USD 432 million.
The Khorassan North Deposit has been difficult to develop as it is situated on the left bank of the Syr-Darya River within an undeveloped desert area far away from all utilities. To successfully develop the deposit, it has been necessary to set up an appropriate infrastructure, with a new 303m long and 8m wide bridge over the Syr-Darya River erected in the minimum of time. Asphalted motor roads totaling 37km were also constructed, alongside reconstruction of 19.5 km of the Schiely-Kargaly-Baikenzhe-Zhanakorgan regional highway. For transportation of freight, in the Zhanakorgan administrative center, an auxiliary railway approach spur and a freight trans-shipment base have been constructed and three 35 and 110kV power transmission lines erected. Construction of a state-of-the-art sulphuric acid plant with an eventual output of 500,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid, annually, has also commenced with the cost of the project amounting to USD 212 million. Within the mine, an up-to-date accommodation field camp for 280 personnel has been set up. Total investment in the infrastructure development is over USD 58 million.
The Khorassan-1 Mine will provide the Zhanakorgan District of the Kyzylorda Region with 450 jobs directly or more than 800 jobs when taking into account auxiliary facilities, with LLP Kyzylkum planning to train local labor resources for their subsequent employment. Many of the facilities (such as roads and the bridge over the Syr-Darya River) have already become a part of the Zhanakorgan district infrastructure. The bridge over the Syr-Darya River is of great social importance to the region replacing the temporary pontoon ferries, used by local inhabitants, which, particularly in winter seasons, were especially difficult and dangerous. At that time the nearest neighboring bridge was 50 km away. The initial project stipulated for a bridge near the Schiely settlement, however, by popular demand from the local population, the decision was made to erect the bridge at the Zhanakorgan administrative center. The new motor road is already being used as a transport link from Baikenzhe, and other settlements, to the Zhanakorgan administrative center. LLP Kyzylkum has been actively rendering social assistance to the local population with the Company extending aid to the needy, supporting students, providing local schools with relevant equipment and in helping to construct the Khorassan-Ata mausoleum. In cooperation with the Kazatomprom-Demeu Company, LLP Kyzylkum is also intent on implementing other projects in the region and will develop a dedicated social development program.
NOTES FOR INFORMATION
The Khorassan North deposit (Kyzylorda Region) was discovered in 1979. The deposit is situated on the left bank of the Syr-Darya River, 34 km away from the Zhanakorgan administrative center. The ore bodies are 10- 12km in length, 200- 250m in width and lie at depths from 200 down to 800m. On account of the significant lengths of the ore bodies, the deposit has been divided into two portions: namely Khorassan-1 and Khorassan-2. The new mine facilities are to serve the Khorassan-1 site. The uranium is mined by means of the in-situ leaching technique (ISL). This technique was recognized by IAEA to be the most environmentally friendly and safe technique world-wide. Upon completion of mining operations, the land will be returned to the State with no limitations on further use.
LLP Kyzylkum was established in May of 2005 within the framework of the “15,000 tonnes by 2010” program and developed by NAC Kazatomprom. Its role is to participate in implementation of the plan for “the National Program for the Development of the Uranium Production Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan within the period 2004 – 2015” , the program having been approved by the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Document No. 76 dated January 23, 2004). The main goal, in establishment of LLP Kyzylkum, is implementation of the project for the development of the Khorassan North uranium deposit (Khorassan-1 site).
Kazatomprom is the national operator of the Republic of Kazakhstan for export of uranium and its compounds, rare metals, nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants, special purpose equipment, technologies and double-use materials. The main activities of the company are: geological exploration, uranium production, manufacture of nuclear fuel cycle products, reactor construction, nuclear power plants, non-ferrous metallurgy and production of construction materials, the electric energy sector, scientific support of production and social welfare and training of personnel. Today Kazatomprom has more than 25,000 employees and is amongst the leading uranium production companies in the world.