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Issues at Operating Uranium Mines and Mills - Asia

(last updated 24 Jun 2024)



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Afghanistan   flag

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Illegal uranium mining in Afghanistan unabated

Smugglers and unscrupulous elements are busy illegally excavating mines to plunder Afghanistan's uranium and gold reserves in Kohistan district of the northern Faryab province.
Officials and residents charged on Sep. 7, 2005, the uranium brought huge windfalls to the unauthorized excavators.
Officials at the Ministry of Mines and Industries admitted "irresponsible elements" were digging the site for precious metals. They said they were trying to prevent as soon as possible the brazen plunder of the assets belonging to the Afghan government and people.
A Kohistan-based mineral expert told Pajhwok Afghan News rapacious men, with no expertise and equipment, dug out large quantities of prized metals including uranium, gold, copper, lead and azure.
The glowing stones, often mishandled by the callow men, were smuggled to an unknown location, alleged Eng. Khan Mirza, who deplored the massive reserves were being exploited in a non-professional way.
The brazen practice was rampant during previous governments as well, he said while stressing an early end to what he called a loss of impoverished Afghanistan's abundant mineral resources.
Tucked away in the jagged Hindukush mountain range, Siku mines are situated 148 kilometres southeast of the provincial capital city of Maimana. (Pajhwok Afghan News/Asia Pulse, Sept 9, 2005)

China   flag

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Six Chinese uranium mines selected as 'National Green Mines'

On June 3, the Ministry of Land and Resources published the third group of National Green Mines, in which six were from CNNC. They are Jinan Uranium Corporation (721 mine), Caotao Bei mine of Jinrui Uranium Cor., Qinglong mine of North Uranium Cor., 745 mine of Jinyuan Uranium Cor., 737 and 739 factories of Xinjiang Tianshan Uranium Corporation.
Green mines, i.e. environmental friendly mines, are mining enterprises that are environmental friendly, and pay attention to issues such as energy saving, emissions reduction and land reclamation in their daily operations. The mines should also make contributions to their community. (CNNC June 7, 2013)

Study analyzes excessive radon concentrations in Chinese uranium mines, discusses reduction measures

"At present, the radon and radon progeny levels in Chinese uranium mines where the cut and fill stoping method is used are 3-5 times higher than those in foreign uranium mines, as there is not much difference in the investments for ventilation protection between Chinese uranium mines and international advanced uranium mines with compaction methodology. In this paper, through the analysis of radon reduction and ventilation systems in Chinese uranium mines and the comparison of advantages and disadvantages between a variety of ventilation systems in terms of radon control, the authors try to illustrate the reasons for the higher radon and radon progeny levels in Chinese uranium mines and put forward some problems in three areas, namely the theory of radon control and ventilation systems, radon reduction ventilation measures and ventilation management. [...]"
Analysis of radon reduction and ventilation systems in uranium mines in China, by Hu, PH, Li, XJ, in: Journal of Radiological Protection Vol. 32, No. 3, July 19, 2012, p. 289-300 (ahead of print)


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Iran   flag

General · Bandar Abbas · Saghand
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Iran's uranium production capacity increased by 50%

Iran's nuclear chief said the country's yellowcake production capacity has seen a year-on-year rise of 50 percent since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year, which fell on March 21.
"We have increased yellowcake production capacity by 50 percent compared to last year, and will raise it by another 50 percent by the yearend to double the output compared to two years ago," said President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami in an interview with the semi-official Mehr news agency published on Wednesday (July 19).
"Last year, we had two active (uranium) mines, and currently, the figure has increased to eight," said Eslami. (Xinhua July 19, 2023)

[According to the World Nuclear Association, Iran's uranium production in 2022 was estimated at 20 t U.]


Saghand mines, Yazd Province

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Bandar Abbas deposit, Hormozgan

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Korea, DPR   flag

General · Pyongsan
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North Korea offers export of uranium to Russia

North Korea has offered Russia exclusive rights to its natural uranium deposits in exchange for open support at the six-way talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons, a Japanese daily said. Citing Russian government sources, the Tokyo Shimbun report said Moscow and Pyongyang had been in secret talks since 2002 over a plan for Russia to import the uranium and enrich it before selling it on as nuclear fuel to China and Vietnam, in what the sources said would be a highly profitable venture. (Reuters Dec. 3, 2006)


Pyongsan, North Hwanghae province

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North Korea's Pyongsan uranium mine hit by cave-ins, satellite images suggest

A North Korean uranium mine used in the making of nuclear bombs has been hit by a number of cave-ins. The extent of the damage is visible from space, with satellite images providing the best proof of the situation. Pyongsan mine is the main source of uranium ore for Kim Jong Un's nukes. [...]
Jacob Bogle, a freelance analyst who created a comprehensive satellite map of the secretive East Asian country, noticed the collapse in recent pictures of the Pyongsan mine. He said: "The Pyongsan mine is underground, so the only visible aspects of it should be tunnel entrances, surface facilities like crushing equipment, and piles of coal."
"However, what has developed at the mine is a series of irregular pits with no associated activity -- no trucks, no bucket excavators, and nothing to suggest they were created to facilitate mining." Mr Bogle suggested the pattern of recent collapses suggested areas that had been 'mined out' had 'lost their structural support'.
However, the size of the mine [...] means there is unlikely to be an interruption in the supply of uranium to the regime. (MetroUK Jan. 19, 2023)

Pyongsan uranium mill continues to produce uranium concentrate

North Korea continues to operate its key uranium plant, a U.S. think tank said Monday (Nov. 8), suggesting a steady growth in North Korea's stockpile of the material used to build nuclear weapons.
Citing recent satellite imagery, Beyond Parallel, a project of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies , reported the North's Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant remains operational and is producing uranium concentrate.
"The main plant of the Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant continues to show activity consistent with the continued production of uranium concentrate and ongoing maintenance efforts," the report said, citing commercial satellite imagery collected between April and October. (The Korea Times Nov. 9, 2021)
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Satellite images suggest North Korea expanding Pyongsan uranium mill capacity - report

North Korea appears to be expanding its capacity to produce uranium, which could be used to increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons, a U.S. nuclear expert said on Wednesday (Aug. 12).
In a report on the North Korea monitoring website, 38 North , Jeffrey Lewis said recent satellite imagery showed that in the past year North Korea had begun to refurbish a major uranium mill in Pyongsan, a county in the southern part of the country. (Reuters Aug. 12, 2015)

Kyrgyzstan   flag

General · Kara-Balta mill
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Terrorists eyeing uranium mines in Central Asia

International terrorist organizations are trying to gain access to uranium mines in Central Asia, the head of the anti-terrorism center for post-Soviet states said on Sep. 12, 2007. Andrei Novikov, who heads the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Anti-Terrorism Center (ATC), said the ATC primarily concerned over "the security of uranium-producing enterprises in Kyrgyzstan." However, he said, the security services of the Central Asian country had stepped up measures to prevent terrorists from entering sensitive facilities, and that the ATC's office in the country is cooperating with the security services. (RIA Novosti Sep. 12, 2007)

Kara-Balta mill

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Kara Balta uranium mill to be rebuilt

The authorities in Kyrgyzstan will spend 1.6 billion som ($18m) to pay the Kara-Balta Mining Combine's tax debts. In addition, the enterprise’s specialists will be paid wages they have yet to received in years.
Earlier, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov instructed the government to take measures to preserve jobs and assets. He also demanded that all the plant's facilities be restored for fully-fledged work with uranium.
The Kara-Balta Mining Combine was built in 1955 and was one of the largest uranium processors for the nuclear industry of the USSR. In the 1990s, the plant was privatized and sold to a foreign company. Unsuccessful management by the new investors led to a sharp decline in production, and in 2016, the mill suspended its uranium operations and was declared bankrupt in 2022. (The Times of Central Asia June 24, 2024)

Russian-owned Central Asian Uranium Company to take over Kara Balta uranium mill and Kyzyl-Ompul uranium mine project

Central Asian Uranium Company will invest in Kara-Balta Mining Plant OJSC (KBMP) and uranium mining at Kyzyl-Ompol deposit. Representative of Russian shareholders Andrey Akimov, General Director of KBMP Daniyar Isakov and Vladimir Popov, the main shareholder of the Central Asian Uranium Company, announced at the Kyrgyz-Russian Interregional Conference. (24.kg Mar. 27, 2019)

Kara-Balta uranium mill ready for restart to process ores from Kyzyl-Ompul

At the occasion of a working trip, Prime Minister Muhammadkaliy Abylgaziev was informed that at present a large-scale work has been done to equip the plant with necessary equipment and to install a production line for separating uranium from other elements. At the moment, the production chain is ready for launch and in the near future it is planned to start production for raw materials from the Kyzyl-Ompul field. (AKIPress Sep. 29, 2018)

Kara-Balta mill stopped operations due to lack of ore supply from Kazakhstan

The Kara-Balta Ore processing Plant may be returned to state ownership, the head of the Mining and Metallurgical Trade Union Eldar Tadzhibaev told 24.kg news agency. According to him, last week production at the plant was stopped due to lack of raw materials. Since November 2015, the main production at the plant has been standing idle due to lack of orders from Kazakhstan. (24.kg Feb. 22, 2016)

Kara-Balta mill stopped operations because of unstable deliveries of the Kazakh raw material

In connection with the instability of the delivery of raw material, the operation of the Kara-Balta mining combine is stopped since April 2010, reported the adviser of the director general of the enterprise, Zhalgap Kazakbaev, on June 9. According to him, a letter was directed to Kazakhstan (the basic supplier of raw material) on behalf of the combine in order to solve this question. (AKIPress June 9, 2010)

$200 million investment planned for Kara-Balta uranium mill

The Kara-Balta mining combine is planning to spend $200 million for the re-equipping of the Kara Balta uranium mill. (AKIPress Oct. 10, 2008)

Kara Balta mill resumes uranium production

Kyrgyzstan's Kara-Baltinsky uranium-producing enterprise produced 36.4 tonnes of uranium in the first quarter of 2008, a source with the mining industry department at the Kyrgyz State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources told Interfax. The enterprise, in which UralPlatina Holding that consolidated the Renova Group's gold mining assets acquired a 72.3% stake in February 2007, did not produce uranium since 2005 given a lack of resources. The enterprise plans to produce 50 tonnes of uranium in April 2008. (Interfax Apr. 25, 2008)

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Myanmar (Burma)   flag


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Burma allegedly mining uranium

Burma has uranium deposits, and the Ministry of Energy has identified five sources of ore in the country, all low-grade uranium unsuitable for military purposes. But the defectors claim that two more uranium mines in Burma are not included in official reports: one near Mohnyin in Kachin State and another in the vicinity of Mogok in Mandalay Division. The ore is supposedly transported to a Thabeikkyin refinery, conveniently located between the two alleged mines. (YaleGlobal, 3 Dec. 2008)

Pakistan   flag

Issa Khel · Kubul Khel

Kubul Khel (Qabul Khel) mine, Lakki Marwat District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Issa Khel mill, Miniawali District, Punjab

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District demands share in royalty of Kubul Khel uranium mine: The (Lakki Marwat) district chapter of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) has demanded share in bonus and royalty in the ISL Qaboolkhel uranium project and Lucky Cement Factory and said that the high command of the party would take up the matter with the provincial and federal governments. The demand was made at a meeting held here on Wednesday (July 9) with district general secretary Imranullah Begukhel in the chair.
Imran said that ISL project run by PAEC and Lucky Cement had been established on the soil of Marwats but both organisations were of no use for local people. He said that residents of the district had been kept deprived of the royalty of Qaboolkhel project and the due share in the profit of Lucky Cement Factory. The QWP leader said that both organisations did not spend a single penny in social sector in the backward district. (The Nation July 10, 2014)


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Uzbekistan   flag

General · Navoi
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Uzbekistan plans to double uranium production

Uzbekistan plans to double uranium production to 7,100 tons in 2022-2030, according to the order signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Uranium production is suggested to be increased from 3,526 tons to 7,100 tons by 2030. (AKIpress July 18, 2022)

Uzbekistan to privatize uranium miner Navoi

Uzbekistan will fully or partly privatise over 620 state-owned companies and properties to accelerate the Central Asian nation's transition to a market economy, a presidential decree announced on Wednesday (Oct. 28).
The decree included 32 of the largest state companies, including energy firm Uzbekneftegaz, gold and uranium miner Navoi Mining and Metallurgy Combine, Uzbekistan Airways and Uzbekistan Railways companies, and the Uzautosanoat car maker. (Reuters Oct. 28, 2020)

India signs agreement with Uzbekistan on uranium import

India and Uzbekistan signed an agreement on importing uranium from the Central Asian nation following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2019 here on Friday [Jan. 18]. The two sides also signed an agreement for a line of credit of $200 million from India for financing housing and social infrastructure projects in Uzbekistan.
"Both leaders witnessed the exchange of the contract between the Department of Atomic Energy of India and the Novoi Minerals and Metallurgical Company of the Republic of Uzbekistan on long-term supply of uranium ore concentrate for India's energy requirements," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. (IANS Jan. 18, 2019)

Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said yesterday that India has signed a long term contract with Uzbekistan on 18 January 2019 for supply of 1,100 Metric Tons of natural uranium ore concentrates during the years 2022 to 2026. (Indus Dictum Nov. 29, 2019)

India in talks with Uzbekistan to create uranium reserve

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Uzbekistan to supply 2,000 tonnes of uranium to India

State-owned Navoi Mining & Metallurgy Combine of Uzbekistan has signed up to supply 2,000 tons of uranium ore concentrate to India over the next four years (2014-2018). In September 2013, an agreement on the supply of uranium was reached. (AKIpress Aug. 27, 2014)

Uzbekistan to increase uranium exports to South Korea

Uzbekistan is going to increase uranium exports to South Korea. It is expected that the flows will almost double from three hundred to five hundred tons per year. A draft contract to be signed in September 2014 has been reportedly prepared. State-owned Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power will import uranium.
In mid-2012, Uzbekistan and South Korea have already reached similar agreement. They agreed to supply supply over five thousand tons of uranium from the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine, which is the only industrial complex producing uranium in Uzbekistan. (AKIpress June 24, 2014)

Uzbekistan exports 1,663 t of uranium to China in 2013

According to the Chinese General Administration of Customs, Uzbekistan's uranium supply in China in 2013 amounted to 1,663 tons - twice more than in 2012. (AKIpress Feb. 13, 2014)



Production shortfall at Navoi uranium processing plant

The Navoi Mining and Metals Plant produced 2,260 tonnes of uranium in 2006, which is 1.8% less than in 2005 (2,301 tonnes), an Uzbek government source told Interfax. The decline in the uranium production was due to lack of financing and technological problems resulting from it, the source said. In particular, there were irregularities in the production of sulfuric acid, which is used in uranium production, the source said. (Interfax Jan. 9, 2007)
Uranium production at Uzbekistan's Navoi Mining and Metals Plant could be reduced by 1.8% in 2006 from the 2,301 tonnes of uranium in 2005, a source in government circles told Interfax. "According to forecasts, uranium mining this year could fall by approximately 40 tonnes due to technical problems of an industrial nature and insufficient funding," the source said. (Interfax Dec. 8, 2006)

Navoi plant regains nearly full uranium output

After a production cut back by 23% in 2003, the Navoi uranium processing plant regained nearly full output (500 t) in the first quarter of 2004. The 2003 cut back had been caused from shortage of sulfuric acid supply and from worn equipment. The production increase had been possible with an upgrading of the sulfuric acid plant and the replacement of old equipment in the processing plant, financed by a $6 million loan said to be provided by Nukem Inc. (USA). (Interfax April 20, 2004)

Navoi plans new attempt to raise uranium production

Uzbekistan is aiming to boost uranium mine-output (from 2,100 tonnes in 2002) 40% to 3,000 tonnes annually by 2010. (Interfax 23 Oct. 2003)

More than 50% Capacity Increase at Navoi plant planned

Details of a US$1 billion programme to modernise gold and uranium producer Navoi Integrated Mining and Metallurgical Plant have been announced. The project would include new equipment enabling uranium production to increase from the current 2000 tU/yr to between 3000 and 3500 tU/yr within two years. Discussions on the joint venture being set up by Navoi and Nukem are reported to be nearing completion. [UI News Briefing 96/27]

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