Kirienko: Russia has 615,000 tons of uranium

Publish date: September 28, 2006

The supply of uranium in Russia is estimated to be some 615,000 tons, Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko announced Thursday, adding that tapping in the country’s mines “has become profitable,” the Russian RIA Novosti newswire reported.

According to Kirienko, extracting uranium from Russian mines was not a profitable endeavor because the average market price for a kilogram of uranium was approximately $40.

But now world market prices have skyrocketed to $100 per kilogram, said Kirienko, making Russian mining of the substance justifiable as a profit-turning business. The sharp upturn in uranium prices can be chalked up to analysts assertions over the past few years that world uranium supplies were running short, and thus countries with nuclear energy programmes began buying it up as quickly as they could.

Kirienko added that the Russian joint venture with uranium rich Kazakhstan – called Zarechnoe – will begin mining in January or February of 2007.

“We will expand cooperation in the field of uranium mining with all countries where uranium mining occurs,” RIA Novosti quoted Kirienko of saying. “We are ready to develop active cooperation with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and already have an active dialogue with Mongolia.”

According to Kirienko, a significant quantity of uranium was mined for military purposes during soviet times, thus Russia “can mine nothing for a few dozen years.” But he added that, on the other hand, uranium mining is necessary for wide-scale development of nuclear power.