ROSATOM currently ranks second in the world in terms of the mineral feedstock, and fourth from the viewpoint of uranium production output. ROSATOM’s self-sufficiency in raw material rests upon domestic uranium mining and joint venture mining elsewhere. Russia produces annually approximately 3,000 tons of uranium domestically, and some 5,000 tons in other countries. Shaft technique or borehole in-situ leaching are used in uranium mining. All Russian uranium producers are part of the mining division of ROSATOM – ‘ARMZ Uranium Holding Co.’ (JSC AtomRedMetZoloto), while non-Russian uranium mining ventures are run by ‘Uranium One’.
Russia persistently takes steps to enlarge its mineral feedstock. More efficient plants are put in operation all the time. Thus, in late 2012, a new underground mine was commissioned for the first time in 20 years in Russia, at the largest domestic uranium mining site of Priargunsky Industrial Mining and Chemical Union’ (Priargunsky), where uranium is mined by a shaft process. It was decided to undertake additional exploration of Streltsovsk ore field deposits that accommodate about 40% of the economic reserves of the enterprise, and initiate mining there. If implemented, this project will guarantee effective operation of Priargunsky for decades to come.
‘Dalur’ and ‘Khiagda’ produce uranium by borehole in-situ leaching. ‘Khiagda’ resource potential is sufficient to keep it running for 100 years. Uranium output is expected to grow in near future to reach 1000 tons per year, with potential further expansion.
‘Uranium One’ manages ROSATOM’s uranium assets outside Russia. The company has portfolio with very efficient assets, and its cost figures come best among world’s TOP-5 producers of natural uranium. Project footprints extend to Kazakhstan, Tanzania, Namibia and USA. At present, uranium is produced at six mines in Kazakhstan, and at one mine in the United States. Preparatory activities are under way to develop a deposit in Tanzania.
The accident at the NPP “Fukushima-1” in Japan caused a drop in activity and prices in the wholesale market, but in the medium and long term, the demand for natural uranium associated with the further development of nuclear energy in China, India and other countries is still expected to increase. According to the baseline scenario of the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the global demand for uranium will increase, and in 2030 will amount to 97.5 thousand tonnes. At the same time, the volume of supply from secondary sources will be reduced and will not exceed 12,000 tonnes in uranium equivalent by 2030.