1 Sep 2009 07:47

Uzbekistan, CGNPC subsidiary form uranium exploration JV (repeat)

Tashkent. August 31. INTERFAX - Uzbekistan's State Geology and Mineral Resources Committee has formed a joint venture (JV) with CGNPC Uranium Resources Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. Ltd. (CGNPC), to explore the Boztau uranium property in the Navoi region, a highly placed source at the committee told Interfax.

Uz-China Uran, as the $4.6 million JV will be known, is Uzbekistan's first uranium exploration JV with a foreign company.

The source said the JV's formation had been approved by a special government decree.

Uz-China Uran will be a 50:50 JV. CGNPC Uranium Resources will pay its share in cash and equipment while Uzbekistan will contribute geological, geophysical and other data so far obtained at the property.

The JV will be seeking to identify commercial black shale uranium deposits on entrepreneurial risk terms. CGNPC Uranium Resources will have first right of refusal to buy the JV's uranium at world prices.

The JV will receive a three-year exploration license.

Uzbekistan has signed protocols on cooperation in black shale uranium exploration and mining with Japan's Itochu Sojitz Corp. and with Korea Resources Corp., however no joint ventures have yet been formed.

The Geology Committee and Navoi Mining and Metals Combine signed an agreement of intent to develop the Aktau uranium deposit with Russia's Techsnabexport and Rusburmash in 2006, but this project has not yet materialized.

Uzbekistan has the world's seventh biggest uranium reserves and wholly exports its entire uranium output.

Navoi Mining and Metals Combine is Uzbekistan's uranium monopoly. It controls three mining divisions that produce uranium by the in-situ leach (ISL) method and processes the ore at the No. 1 hydrometallurgical plant in the city of Navoi.

The Uzbek State Geology and Mineral Resources Committee has 27 uranium deposits in the Central Kyzyl Kum region, with an estimated 55,000 tons of uranium, which form the core of the country's uranium mining industry.