Beijing needs material to power nuclear expansion
Kazakhstan, the world’s top uranium producer, has signed a long-term deal to supply the material to China, as the Central Asian country steps up cooperation with Beijing.
The deal, between the national atomic company Kazatomprom and China National Uranium Corporation Limited, is to deliver an unspecified amount of natural uranium concentrate, which is used in the nuclear fuel cycle.
“Volumes and specific contract terms cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality and commercial sensitivity,” Kazatomprom said in a statement.
“This contract with a major Chinese energy company will contribute to meeting China’s growing need for clean, net zero energy, while strengthening the historic long-term relationships between the two countries in the nuclear industry,” the company said.
Kazakhstan produces more than 40% of the world’s uranium. It cooperates with Russia on nuclear energy and is seen as a key supplier of uranium by major nuclear operators.
During a visit by French president Emmanuel Macron to the region earlier this month, Kazatomprom and French nuclear company Framatome signed a cooperation deal in the nuclear fuel cycle.
France, China, Russia and South Korea are competing to supply a reactor for what would be Kazakhstan's first nuclear power station. Plans for nuclear power will be put to a referendum by the end of the year.
Earlier this year Kazakhstan’s energy minister said Kazakhstan had received offers to build the facility from France, China, South Korea and Russia.
Kazatomprom, which for the last few years has restricted its own output in order to stabilise prices, is planning to end such cuts in 2025 and thus significantly increase production.
For seven years including 2023, the company has produced 20% less than its contracts with the Kazakh government allowed, with this year's output seen at 20,500-21,500 tonnes.