The government of Kazakhstan has decided to sell to Western companies a controlling stake in Kazakh Atomic Industry, the largest uranium producer and exporter in Central Asia and one of the largest in the former Soviet Union. The company consists of three uranium mines, an enrichment plant (the flagship Ulba metallurgical complex) and a prospecting enterprise. Negotiations toward a takeover are well advanced between the Astana government and two of the world’s leading uranium producers: Cogema of France and Cameco of Canada and the United States. Kazakhstan’s move is consistent with its policy of opening up its vast metallic ore deposits to Western rather than Russian firms.
In announcing this breakthrough, Kazakh Atomic Industry Chairman Muhtar Yakishev made clear that the strategic investors are expected to come up with a program to modernize Kazakh Atomic Industry and to secure and diversify its export outlets. The latter issue is especially topical in light of the anti-dumping proceedings currently underway in the United States against the company (Habar, June 10, 14-15).
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