Uranium mining in Kazakhstan

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

Uranium mining in Kazakhstan is of considerable importance to the national economy. By 2011, Kazakhstan was considered to be the world's largest producer of uranium.[1]


Uranium exploration in Kazakhstan began in 1943.[2] Later, in 1970, mining began with positive results, leading to more exploration. Some underground mines from the 1950s remain, but are close to depletion. In the past half century, Kazakhstan has been a major source of uranium for the world's nuclear programs. In the decade from 2001 to 2011, Kazakhstan's uranium production increased by 17,428 tons. Kazakhstan has 15% of the world's uranium, and in 2011, Kazakhstan was responsible for 35% of world production. There are 17 uranium mines in the country, however, maximum output is capped at 20,000 tons per year.[3]

Currently, 50 deposits are located in six provinces. The responsibility for uranium exploration falls upon two subsidiary organizations of the Ministry of Geology, “Stepgeology” in northern Kazakhstan and “Volkovgeology” in the southern part of the country.[2] Though there is no nationally supported electrical grid, in northern areas of Kazakhstan, electricity comes from Russia, and in the south, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.


Kazatomprom, the nationalized nuclear energy company, was started in 1997.[4] It has oversight of all nuclear activities including mining, exploration, and import/export activities. The company has also formed strong ties with foreign nuclear powers and the company Westinghouse. Agreements are in place with the governments of Russia, Japan, China, Canada, India, and France. Comparing 2010 with 2009, it reported an over forty percent increase in uranium production, and a thirty percent increase in total uranium output.[5]



See also



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