European and American companies are looking for an alternative to Russian supplies of uranium and nuclear fuel. One option is Kazakhstan, with local company Kazatomprom already on hold for additional capacity to meet growing demand for uranium and is preparing to ramp up production in the future. This was reported by Bloomberg with reference to the company's CEO Yerzhan Mukanov.
He said that some Eastern European partners intend to conclude long-term agreements from 2025, apparently, some existing Russian contracts expire this year. Supplies of enriched uranium are planned to be redirected to Kazakhstan, the agency notes. The company's CEO notes that they're getting a lot of inquiries about being able to ramp up supplies, and he says many customers are looking to increase their inventory.
“We are preparing to increase production in order to be able to meet the growing needs of the market,” Mukanov said.
The agency notes that the United States is among the countries that would like to reduce their own dependence on the supply of enriched uranium from Russia. The White House is annoying that since the start of the Russian invasion, Moscow's income from uranium supplies has not only not decreased, but, on the contrary, has grown, which increases Russia's influence on countries with developed nuclear energy. The World Nuclear Association predicts that demand for uranium will increase by about 30% over the next 7 years. Kazakhstan accounts for about 40% of the world's uranium production, the level of production in 2023 will be approximately the same as in the past, and will amount to 22 thousand tons.
Mukanov noted that the company is considering a new trade route bypassing Russia - through China, while Chinese consumers are also interested in increasing the supply of uranium from Kazakhstan. At the moment, Kazatomprom supplied uranium only through Russia and through the Caspian Sea, after which it was delivered to the Black Sea and only from there to consumers.
Uranium and nuclear energy are the only areas that Western countries have not touched with restrictions. All attempts to impose sanctions against this industry have met with stiff resistance: in the United States - from the nuclear lobby, and in Europe - from countries that depend on supplies of uranium and fuel from Russia. Reducing dependence on Russian supplies may change the approach of Western countries to sanctions against Russian uranium.