Baiken-U LLP: sustainable development and focus on future
Kazakhstan has accumulated almost one fifth of global uranium reserves (21 % ranking number 2 worldwide). Total uranium reserves make nearly 1.5 million tons, including 1.1 million tons can be extracted by method of in-situ leaching.
In 2009, Kazakhstan for the first time was the largest uranium producer in the world. During USSR period, territory of Kazakhstan was treated as a reserve for development of uranium mining in the future. Its fields were explored and reserves contained they were evaluated. This served as a basis of rapid development of uranium production in independent Kazakhstan. Today, there are 129 fields and ore occurrence that have been explored and studied. Uranium is mined at 20 mines which are located in fields of arenated type. National company Kazatomprom accounts for the bulk of uranium mining (geological exploration, uranium mining, uranium export).
In Kazakhstan, Uranium One within a joint venture is engaged in commercial uranium mining at six mines: Akdala, Soouthern Inkai, Karatau, Akbastau, Zarechnoye and Kharasan. Kazatomprom is a co-owner of the first four mines. Kharassan mine is co-owned by Kazatomprom and a consortium of Japanese power companies Energy Asia Limited. Significant contribution to development of uranium sector, development and improvement of productivity of uranium is made by Baiken-U LLP that was established by National Atomic Company Kazatomprom in March 2006 within the program ‘15 000 tons of uranium by 2010.’ At that time, Kazatomprom faced tremendous tasks since development of new fields required heavy investments. Therefore, later Japanese investors were invited into Baiken-U project and the Company was re-registered as a joint venture given the change in the composition of its founders. Currently, 95% of the Company is owned by Energy Asia Limited, a consortium made of six Japanese power companies. Another 5% belongs to Kazatomprom. In this respect it should be underlined that Energy Asia Limited covers investments of 100% of funds necessary for project development, while NAC Kazatomprom provides guarantees under loans of Japanese banks and a subsurface use contract. In 2008, long-term contracts were signed for delivery of produced natural uranium for 2010-2025 inclusive, with a right to extent it for another 20 years. Also, in compliance with the agreement, Japanese investors obtain 70% of uranium extracted at Kharassan-2 Mine and Kazakhstan represented by Kazatomprom obtains 30%. Core activities of Baiken-U LLP are mining, processing of natural uranium and conduct of mine preparation at Kharassan-2 Field (Northern Kharassan) located in Baikenzhe Village, Zhanakorgan District, Kyzylorda Region, which is the deepest field for uranium mining by method of in-situ leaching (ILS).