The Kazatomprom Group is the largest producer of natural uranium globally (in production volume terms), with priority access to one of the world’s largest resource bases.
According to UxC data, the Group’s1 uranium production, including the output and refined products of its jointly controlled entities and attributable associates, for the year ended 31 December 2018 corresponded to approximately 23% of total global primary uranium production and around 40% of global in situ leach recovery (ISR) uranium production.
Through its subsidiaries, jointly controlled entities and associates, the Group operates 26 deposits, grouped into 13 asset clusters, all of which are located in Kazakhstan. All of the Group’s uranium deposits are suitable for ISR. The combination of cost-efficient ISR technology, which has a smaller environmental impact than other mining methods, and the Group’s long-life mining asset base will allow it to remain amongst the highest-output and lowest-cost uranium producers globally, according to UxC data. The Group can draw on more than 40 years of ISR experience in Kazakhstan’s uranium mining industry. In addition to being cost efficient and having a low environmental impact, ISR technology offers enhanced operational flexibility compared with conventional mining, improving the scalability of Group operations and allowing it to increase or decrease production quickly and cost efficiently in response to evolving market conditions.
The Company is Kazakhstan’s national importer and exporter of uranium and its compounds, nuclear power-plant fuel, special equipment and technologies, as well as rare metals. Its status as the country’s flagship operator gives the Company certain privileges. For example, it can access subsoil use agreements through direct negotiation with the Government, rather than through the tender process that would otherwise be required. This effectively gives the Company priority access to the high-quality and ISR-conducive deposits of natural uranium that are abundant in Kazakhstan.
The Group only produces uranium from deposits in Kazakhstan. According to UxC data, for the year ending 31 December 2018, Kazakhstan is one of the largest uranium producing countries which accounted for about 44% of global uranium production. The Group also possesses the largest uranium ore reserves of its competitors, according to UxC data. As of 31 December 2018, the Group’s attributable proved and probable ore reserves contained 305,600 tonnes of UME; its attributable measured and indicated mineral resources (including those mineral resources modified to produce the ore reserves) contained 476,700 tonnes of UME, in accordance with the terms and definitions of the JORC Code2.
As the Republic of Kazakhstan’s national atomic company, the Company has partnered with most of the leading players in the global uranium mining industry. The Group has built 10 successful asset-level partnerships with Cameco, CGNPC, Kansai, Marubeni, Orano (formerly Areva), RosAtom and Sumitomo, as well as the Energy Asia consortium, demonstrating the prominence of the Group’s asset base on a global scale. These collaborations have also given the Group access to its partners’ technologies, at the same time allowing it to improve its technological and management know-how. For the years to 31 December 2017 and 31 December 2018, 60.4% and 49.1%, respectively, of the Group’s attributable mined uranium stemmed from its joint-venture (JV) and associate participations.
The Group’s primary customers are operators of nuclear power plants and the principal export markets for the Group’s products are China, South and Eastern Asia, North America and Europe. The Group sells uranium products under long-term contracts, short-term contracts as well as on the spot market via its Switzerland-based trading subsidiary. The price of uranium accounts for a relatively small fraction of the overall cost of producing nuclear energy and most of the Group’s customers tend to prioritise security of supply, which the Group is well positioned to provide on more favourable terms, thanks to its size and uranium production output.
While uranium mining is the predominant focus of its operations, the Group is also present (through its subsidiaries, JVs and associates) in most of the other stages of the ‘front-end’ nuclear fuel cycle, with the exception of uranium conversion. These stages include production of nuclear fuel components and uranium reconversion. The Group has access to production facilities for uranium enrichment. The Group produces uranium products, including natural uranium concentrate, uranium dioxide ceramic powder and fuel pellets, which are used in the manufacture of nuclear fuel assemblies, the fuel used by nuclear power stations to generate electricity. In addition, the Group is currently engaged in the construction of a fuel assembly plant for the Chinese market, which it expects to be operational by the end of 2019. Further, by the end of 2020 it is planned that the plant certification procedure by the technology provider (Framatome) will occur followed by commissioning of the first output. Commercial deliveries of fuel assemblies to China are scheduled to begin in 2021. The Group is well placed to develop a conversion facility, should conversion become economically attractive in future; besides that, the Group plans to secure access to the requisite conversion technologies.
In addition to its uranium operations, the Group is engaged in the manufacture of certain rare metal products, primarily tantalum and beryllium.
The Group has a stable financial position and positive cash flow from its operating activities. The Group expects to finance its operating activities and planned capital investments in existing production assets from its own funds and available debt financing facilities in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the Group shares a significant portion of the risk and cost of field development with joint-venture partners. The listing of Kazatomprom’s shares on the Astana International Exchange (AIFC) and the London Stock Exchange, along with the availability of credit ratings, provide the Group with favourable conditions for accessing the capital markets.
NAC Kazatomprom JSC business model
- Share capital
- External loans
- Uranium deposits
- Energy consumption
- Water consumption
- Process solution
- Information Technology
- Ethical values
- Local communities