The joint venture Nurlikum Mining, set up by the French company Orano Mining and the State Committee on Geology and Mineral Resources (GeolCom) of Uzbekistan, will have the annual capacity to produce 1,500 tons of concentrated uranium oxide (U3O8), GeolCom said on Wednesday.
In September, Orano and Goskomgeologiya signed an agreement on the establishment of a joint venture for exploration and production of uranium in the Navoi province. The JV’s resource base will include three promising of “sandstone” type uranium sites - North and South Dzhengeldy and Yangiquduq.
On the eve, Nurlikum Mining founders reportedly agreed on all procedures for registering the company, and to holdi the first meeting of the founders.
In accordance with the JV deal terms, Orano will own 51% in the form of cash injection, process equipment and machinery, while the GeolCom stare will be 49% through the geological and other costs. At the initial stage, the French company plans to invest up to US$ 20 million in the project and about $ 150 million upon identifying a commercial field. The joint venture plans to begin field work in early 2020.
Sandstone-type uranium deposits were not previously offered for development to foreign investors; they are part of the resource base of the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Complex, which has a monopoly on the extraction, enrichment and export of uranium in the country.
In recent years, the government of Uzbekistan has been trying to attract foreign investors in the development of black-shale uranium deposits, which are currently not being developed and which require significant investments.
According to the State Committee for Geology, in 2017, uranium production in Uzbekistan topped 3600 tons, which is entirely exported.