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Скачать бесплатно! Научная работа на тему KYRGYZ URANIUM: PROSPECTS FOR RUSSIA. Аудитория: ученые, педагоги, деятели науки, работники образования, студенты (18-50). Minsk, Belarus. Research paper. Agreement.

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Опубликовано в библиотеке: 2023-10-27
Источник: Asia and Africa Today, # 7.31 July 2014 Pages 37-41

Mikhail STARCHAK, Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

Keywords: uranium mining, uranium industry, uranium waste, tailings dumps, Republic of Kyrgyzstan, KGRK

For obvious reasons, in the 1940s and 1980s, few people knew that the Soviet Socialist Republic of Kyrgyzstan was an important link in the USSR's nuclear complex. There were several large mining enterprises that specialized in the extraction and primary processing of uranium-containing ore raw materials. Subsequently, a significant part of these enterprises was declassified, and some ceased to exist for a banal reason - due to the depletion of uranium deposits. However, recently interest in the uranium potential of Kyrgyzstan-now an independent state-has been steadily growing. The reason is the growing demand for uranium in the nuclear power industry and the reduction of its proven reserves almost all over the world. How can this potential be assessed today and what are the real opportunities for Kyrgyzstan to restore its reputation as a major uranium-producing region?

The first radioactive uranium minerals on the territory of Kyrgyzstan were discovered at the beginning of the last century in the mountain frame of the Ferghana Valley in the northern foothills of the Alai range, 35 km southwest of the city of Osh: the deposit was named Tyuya-Muyun. In 1904, exploration work began, including the use of a then new method - diamond drilling. From 1907 to 1913, the Tuya-Muyun uranium-and-radium deposit was operated by the Ferghana Joint-Stock Company for the Extraction of Rare Metals, which had a plant for processing the extracted ore in St. Petersburg. During the company's existence, 820 tons of ore were extracted, of which about 655 tons were exported to St. Petersburg and processed into uranium and vanadium preparations-they were exported to Germany. With the outbreak of World War I, further exploration of radioactive minerals and ores in southern Kyrgyzstan almost stopped.


The "pause" lasted for more than two decades: only in 1940 did the rapid development of radioactive ores and minerals in Kyrgyzstan begin. During the Soviet era, the Production Association Yuzhpolymetall conducted uranium mining.

The Kara-Baltinsky Mining Combine (KGRK), built in 1953, was then the largest enterprise in Central Asia of the USSR nuclear complex for processing uranium-containing ore and producing chemical concentrate of natural uranium. This plant accounted for 20% of industrial uranium production in the USSR. At first, KGRK was engaged in processing raw uranium extracted from deposits in northern Kyrgyzstan, but since in the 1970s uranium production moved to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, where rich deposits with more favorable production conditions were discovered, the plant was reoriented to processing ore coming from Southern Kazakhstan [1].

In 1969, KGRK started creating a pilot test site at the Uvanas field for testing a new technological process-the so-called underground borehole leaching, and in 1977 it began commercial uranium production using this progressive method for its time. In total, from 1953 to 1991, KGRK produced and sent for further processing more than 60 thousand tons of uranium concentrate. In 1991, production at the plant was stopped, but in 1994 it continued - now all concentrate was produced from Kazakhstan ore. In 1999, 450 tons of concentrate were produced, which was only 30-35% of the total capacity of the enterprise. In 2000 and 2001, the production of uranium nitrous oxide fell even lower - to 300 tons [2].

The supply of uranium from Kazakhstan to KGRK gradually decreased, and in 2003 the main production at the plant completely stopped [3]. Kazakhstan began to develop its own processing plants, and contracts with it for the supply of uranium were unstable and irregular.

At the end of 2003, KGRK signed an agreement with the German company RWE Nukem GMBH, which provided for the supply of 1,7 thousand tons. t of uranium raw materials from Kazakhstan for its subsequent processing at the Kyrgyz combine [4]. However, it was not possible to start implementing the contract until April 2007. The company steadily accumulated debts. For the development of production, an investor was needed.


In 2006 - 2007, a technical inspection was carried out at the plant with the participation of representatives of the National Atomic Corporation Kazatomprom and the Russian company Atomredmetzoloto, which confirmed that despite several years of production conservation, the technological processes and equipment of the KGRK are in full order and are still capable of producing uranium concentrate, respectively. -

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in line with international quality standards. In March 2007, the Renova Group of Russian companies managed to buy out 72.28% of the shares of the Kara-Balta mining complex with a total value of about $4 million, winning a tender from the Kyrgyz Imotu Enterprise and the Canadian Stans Energy Corp.

At the same time, KGRK became part of the trilateral (Russian-Kyrgyz-Kazakh) JV Zarechnoye. It was planned that the plant should resume production and supply uranium concentrate to Russia. In October 2008, the heads of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Fuel Resources of Kazakhstan, the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and the Renova Group of Companies signed a protocol on cooperation in order to form and develop on a long-term basis a modern production complex for processing raw uranium and producing uranium products (natural uranium concentrate) on the basis of KGRK.

According to this protocol, the Kyrgyz government had to take measures to provide state support for the development of KGRK, including issuing licenses and permits for research; allowing cargo (raw materials, materials, equipment, finished products) to enter and leave the country (raw materials, equipment, finished products). The Renova Group of Companies was supposed to develop strategic programs and projects for the development of the plant, attract investments, manage the plant's activities, deal with issues of remediation of tailings dumps with the extraction of uranium and other useful components from them, as well as solve social problems of the enterprise [5]. The EDB expressed its readiness to participate in the development and expertise of strategic programs and projects for the plant's development, as well as to provide services as its financial and investment adviser. It is important to emphasize that at that time Renova had special technologies that made it possible to extract and process waste from uranium production [6].

The total volume of radioactive waste from the main production facility at KGRK is about 37 million cubic meters [7]. The management of the plant expected that the extraction of uranium and molybdenum from waste would save capacity and stabilize the financial condition of the enterprise, while, importantly, significantly reducing environmental pollution with radioactive elements [8]. However, no economically viable technologies for processing uranium waste were presented to the plant's specialists, and so no one is currently engaged in their processing.

According to preliminary estimates, uranium reserves at the plant's tailings storage facility may reach up to 5 thousand tons. This is not much, but even if we assume that at least 500-700 tons of uranium concentrate can be extracted from KGRK dumps per year, this volume will cover about 10% of the annual demand of the entire Russian nuclear complex for scarce raw materials for several years [1]. The growth of world uranium prices could attract private investors from abroad to Kyrgyzstan [9], according to N. Volker, a representative of the UN Development Program in the Kyrgyz Republic. However, it is not yet possible to count on this, since the current price of uranium on world markets is relatively low.

The new owners of KGRK managed to arrange the supply of raw uranium from the South Kazakhstan deposits "Inkai", "Moinkum", "Mynkuduk". As a result, the main production was launched in September 2007 and 234.3 tons of nitrous oxide-uranium oxide-were produced by the end of the same year [10]. According to the results of 2008, KGRK produced 81.2% more products than in 2007 [11]. In 2009, the plant produced 2,574 tons of uranium worth $17.4 million. Compared to 2008, uranium production increased 2.3 times [12]. By 2012, KGRK had produced a total of over 6.6 thousand tons of natural uranium chemical concentrate.

The development of KGRK has helped to develop a financial and economic model for the operation of uranium production in the medium term. This model, according to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of KGRK A. It provides for a set of measures to ensure environmental safety both at the enterprise and in the surrounding area as a whole, constant monitoring of the state of tailings dump waste, as well as the possibility of extracting uranium and other useful components from them, and conducting new geological exploration for uranium and other minerals. Its implementation, I am convinced. It would allow reviving part of the technological chain of the nuclear complex of the former Minsredmash of the USSR in the new economic conditions [13].


The increase in uranium prices that occurred in the middle of the penultimate decade and the slight reduction in the cost of recycling waste led to the fact that the processing of tailings dumps became economically profitable [14]. In total, there are 92 tailings dumps and mining dumps with radioactive and toxic waste on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. 31 objects contain radioactive waste, including 28-waste from uranium production. According to the former Minister of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic S. Dzhunushaliyev, $40 million is needed to rehabilitate the most dangerous tailings dumps in the country. To raise these funds, Kyrgyzstan intended to negotiate with international financial groups and other possible donor companies [6]. And this is the minimum required amount, which is necessary only for the first stage of work. For comparison, the cost of the final conservation and rehabilitation of the uranium heritage in the German city of Bismuth amounted to about $ 13 billion. euro [15].

Many uranium ore processing tailings are located in ecologically difficult regions, where the risk of landslides, floods, mudslides, and earthquakes is high, which naturally raises concerns for all those who work with radioactive materials. Recently, public organizations that oppose the resumption of production and processing of radioactive uranium raw materials have become more active in Kyrgyzstan. So, former deputy of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic T. Usubaliev believes that the resumption of production and re --

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recycling of uranium raw materials can pose a huge environmental threat to the whole of Kyrgyzstan. T. Usubaliyev appealed to the people, the President and deputies of the Jogorku Kenesh with a demand ."..stop the anti-state madness of state officials who are absorbed in mercantile interests, haggling, and the desire for profit at the expense of the state" [16].

On January 9, 2008, Nimrodel Resources Ltd announced that it had obtained licenses through its subsidiary Linia Prava Uranium Ltd to explore the possibility of processing and extracting uranium and other metals from 23 uranium tailings dumps in the Mailuu-Suu region of Central Kyrgyzstan. But already in October of the same year, the same company Nimrodel Resources Ltd refused to prepare a feasibility study for processing uranium tailings and extracting uranium from them due to prohibitively high costs and insufficient content of valuable components in the waste.


In Kyrgyzstan, there are several promising uranium deposits, which are quite profitable to develop. Among them is the Kyzyl-Ompol group of uranotorianite placers, located just 12-16 km from the railway. Nearby is the Kok-Moinok uranium deposit, which has proven and projected reserves of 20 thousand tons. There is a project to develop the Kamushanovskoye field with established reserves of 297 tons of uranium and estimated reserves of 362 tons . Uranium is found on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul; the northern regions of this lake are even more promising. The Sarydzhaz field is located here, with estimated reserves of 8,222 tons [17]. In 2005, a group of Kyrgyz government officials tried to submit a proposal for the development of the Kyzyl-Ompol and Kok-Moinok uranium-thorium deposits to the Government, but this proposal was not supported.

Local entrepreneurs joined the solution of the "uranium problem" in Kyrgyzstan. In 2007-2008, 15 private geological exploration companies were established in the country, specializing in the search for uranium, and in the future-in their industrial development. Other "non-specialized" investors limit their activities to relatively modest search operations. There are also those who would like to process uranium tailings, but the state imposes absolutely unbearable and obviously overstated technical and economic requirements on them.

Foreign businesses are also showing interest in Kyrgyz uranium. For example, the Australian company Monitor Energy, a subsidiary of Monaro Mining (junior), in May 2007 received a license to search for uranium in the north-eastern part of Kyrgyzstan for a period of up to May 2009. The license covered the Kalmak-Suu site with an area of 272 square kilometers, located north of Lake Issyk-Kul with the Kash deposits.- kasu" and Kokmoinok, which is considered the most promising in this region. By that time, the same company already owned 8 production licenses at the following fields: Aramsu, Utor, Naryn, Sumsar, Sogul, Jurasau, Khodjaakan, and Gavasai. However, it took a long time for the Australians to find sufficiently promising areas suitable for commercial extraction of uranium raw materials [18].

But they didn't lose hope. After all, according to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Monaro Mining, U. Grigor, in Australia, the construction of a new uranium mine can take up to 5 years, and in Kyrgyzstan it will take only 2 years [19]. In September 2009, the company confirmed data obtained several decades ago that there are deposits with a uranium concentration of 0.5% in the search area [20]. This was encouraging news, because at 2008 prices, deposits with significantly lower uranium concentrations - up to 0.1% - were considered highly profitable. This allows us to hope that over time the Australian company will be able to "gain a foothold" in Kyrgyzstan. By the way, the same Monaro Mining company signed a memorandum with the resource company Sinosteel (China) on conducting research at its uranium facilities in Kyrgyzstan. In the future, the Chinese promised to transfer 60% of the two new uranium deposits to the Australians [21]. However, in late 2009, Monaro Mining announced that it had sold 75% of its assets to Hong Kong-based Gate Bridge Co Ltd, and it is not yet clear how this transaction will affect the previous agreements with Sinosteel.

In 2005 - 2006, Canadian, American and Kazakh companies also searched for "uranium traces" on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. However, no positive results were obtained, and it is at least premature to talk about the industrial significance of any of the objects studied by foreigners [22].

Nevertheless, interest in Kyrgyz uranium remains. So, the Canadian company Dynamite Resources Ltd. In 2007, DNR announced its intention to significantly increase funding for exploration activities at the Kokomeren and Barskaun uranium deposits, located 90 km south and 250 km southeast of the capital Bishkek, respectively. They are part of the so-called Tien Shan mineral belt, which runs through the territory of Kyrgyzstan and is considered one of the richest in the world in terms of reserves of uranium-containing ores. Another Canadian company, Uranium One, is also interested in Kyrgyz uranium.

However, many senior Kyrgyz officials do not share the optimism of foreign experts. Back in 2007, the director of the republican State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources, V. Zubkov, said that all the uranium deposits in the republic had been worked out, and they still had scanty reserves of raw materials - no one would "develop" them. But after all, foreign companies are not going to do this - they are sent to the republic for the purpose of exploring and developing uranium deposits of a different, hydrogenic type, where uranium can be obtained without building a mine, by underground leaching. The same V. Zubkov noted that in Kyrgyzstan it has not yet been issued

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not even a single license for uranium exploration, and even more so for the development of deposits. Only a few foreign companies conduct search operations of a purely regional nature. They study areas that, in their opinion, are potentially promising. Moreover, "light - type" works are carried out here-geological, geochemical, and geophysical [23].

Unfortunately, political instability in Kyrgyzstan negatively affects the development of the country's industry, including the uranium mining complex. Since 2009, the country's government has persistently, but to no avail, invited foreign investors to join in the exploration and development of new uranium deposits. A corresponding appeal was sent back in 2009 - and again to no avail-in particular, to the Government of Belarus. N. Eshnazarova, Deputy Director of the State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, states that Kyrgyzstan is primarily interested in prospecting, since the country will have new and more complete information about its uranium potential based on their results [22]. However, after the onset of the global economic crisis and the decline in world uranium prices, many potential investors not only did not heed the calls of local officials, but stopped working altogether and left Kyrgyzstan.

According to the reference of the Government Commission on Licensing of subsurface use and use of mineral Deposits, dated January 2011, licenses for the search for new uranium deposits were issued to a number of Kyrgyz companies. Thus, the license for geological exploration of the East Zhetim area, located in Issyk-Kul and Naryn regions, was granted to CJSC "International Mining Company-Invit". A number of licenses for geological exploration of uranium were obtained by Resurs IMS CJSC, Linii Prava Tsentralnoi Azii LLC, Insan Group Co LTD and others. All subsurface users do not bear any responsibility for the terms and volumes of work carried out and practically do not report to the licensor. Despite this, they continue to retain the licenses they received at the time and hope to find partners-investors. The only license for the development of the tailings of the Kara-Baltinsky Mining Combine issued by the Central Asian Mining Company LLC yielded results: in 2 years, the GMZ was able to determine the uranium reserves at the tailings farms, which were taken into account by the licensor [22]. The tailings development project involves a fundamentally new technology, and if the high price of uranium continues, its implementation can bring profit and at the same time not cause environmental damage, as is often the case with the processing of uranium tailings.

As of January 1, 2010, Kyrgyz government agencies have issued licenses to operate on 29 areas of uranium and rare earth deposits. Of these, 21 licenses are for exploration, 6 for exploration and 2 for field development. Three licenses for geological exploration of the Kyzylbulak, Kyzylompul and Mailisu areas, with a total size of 300 thousand hectares, were issued to OcOO U Energy, registered in Bishkek in July 2009 [24].

However, the practice of issuing such decisions was soon formally suspended. In January 2011, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Kyrgyz Republic issued an order to completely stop the activities of the entire mining industry of the country for an indefinite period. By this order, geological materials were generally withdrawn from the use of project companies, without which it is impossible to fulfill any contractual obligations. All expeditions that process geological reports have been completely shut down.

However, in practice, this order did not last long. Already in mid-2012, in just two months, the Subsurface Use Licensing Commission of the State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources of Kyrgyzstan issued 18 licenses for the development of uranium and rare earth metals deposits and 21 licenses for geological exploration for uranium and rare earth metals. In addition, as of early 2014, more than 30 companies from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Hong Kong are involved in the geological exploration and development of uranium deposits. Foreign investors have also been granted licenses to process uranium-containing waste from tailings dumps in the Mailuu-Suu area.

Thus, there is, to put it mildly, a lack of proper order in the" uranium economy " of the republic, which, of course, worries its leadership. Temir Sariev, Minister of Economy and Antimonopoly Policy of the Kyrgyz Republic, recently announced that the Kyrgyz government will tighten the conditions for issuing licenses for field development. According to him, in recent years, the issuance of such licenses has become a profitable business. "The recipients of permits could not develop deposits for years, reselling licenses at a higher price." This has led to the fact that for 20 years no full-fledged work has been carried out to search for new uranium deposits. In this regard, the Ministry proposed to sell licenses only at auctions and only for strategic objects, while determining the terms of their use. "If the work was not completed within the agreed time frame, the license holders will pay a penalty, and in the future the license may be revoked," T. Sariev said [25].


It is worth recalling that Russia was and remains the only holder of the archives of Soviet development of uranium deposits in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, it is impossible not to listen to the opinion of our experts about the current state and prospects of uranium mining in this country. In particular, according to E. Kudryavtsev, Director of the Rosatom Department, expressed in June 2009,"...the main reserves of uranium in the republic were worked out in the 1970s, and therefore there is no interest in mining-

page 40

research Institute of Exploration works for further uranium mining in Kyrgyzstan " [26]. Russian experts rightly believe that it is more profitable to gain control over the above-mentioned KGRK, which processes uranium ores from the Kazakhstan deposit, than to search for new deposits with minimal chances of success.

After 2008, due to the economic crisis and the decline in the price of uranium on world markets, many foreign companies searching for uranium deposits in Kyrgyzstan began to leave the country. However, Kyrgyzstan's uranium potential is still likely not exhausted. According to G. Savchenko, a former chief geologist of the KGRK, now working in one of the foreign companies engaged in the search for uranium deposits in the Kyrgyz Republic, in the republic "...deposits of a similar type (hydrogenic) can be found in loose sediments, but not as large as in Kazakhstan, but rather small or medium in size. reserves" [22]. If the price of uranium ever turns out to be higher than it is now, and at the same time stable enough, geological exploration in Kyrgyzstan will continue, and it is likely that new small or medium-sized deposits will be discovered. The growing shortage of uranium around the world will encourage companies - national and foreign-to search for uranium at all promising sites.

The CEOs of these companies must consider that they are bound to face political and environmental risks and costs. Kyrgyzstan is divided into supporters and opponents of uranium mining on the territory of the republic. Any active actions of companies will be accompanied by public discontent, opposition from various environmental funds and a number of local politicians. All this will affect the size of the upcoming costs, which means that decisions on the feasibility of uranium exploration and production in the Kyrgyz Republic will be made.

1. Kryuchkov S. Atomnoe triedinstvo [Atomic trinity] / / Rossiyskaya gazeta (central issue No. 4765), 06.10.2008 - ?mod=ml&mid=&id=4770&print=1&title&titlc_id

2. Uranus with a bang. Vecherka analyzes the situation around tailing dumps // Вечерний Бишкек (Кыргызстан), 31.07.2001 - news/l/Uran_na_ura._Vecherka_analiziruet_situatsiyu_slozhi vshuyusya vokrug hvostohranilisch. - Vechernij_Bishkek_ KYRGYZSTAN

3. Reported by the Minister of Nuclear Industry E. Adamov -

4. Interfax, Kabar, 8.12.2003; AKIpress, 24.02.2004; RIA Novosti, 25.02.2004.

5. Kyrgyzstan, EDB and Renova to cooperate in creation of a uranium production complex, 13.10.2008 -

6. KGRK is not yet ready to resume production on its own raw uranium, 12.10.2007 - http://www.atom

7. Chapter 2. Analysis of the current state of radioactive waste storage facilities in Central Asia and their impact on the environment and public health // Information materials for the Regional Conference on Problems of Central Asian Uranium Tailings Dumps in the Cross-border aspect (Bishkek, April 21-24, 2009), p.31.

8. Integrated development of KGRK will be carried out on the basis of processing of tailings dumps., 10.04.2009 -

9. Volker Neal. Rising world uranium prices create opportunities for private investors to come to Kyrgyzstan for its production from tailing dumps, 18.12.2008 - 2008/12/18/101341. html

10. Speech by A.D. Dzhumagulov, Doctor of Geological and Mathematical Sciences, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kara-Balta Mining Combine (Kyrgyz Republic)

11. The Eternal Atom, 29.05.2009 - news/27931/

12. See: Kyrgyzstan: Kara-Balta Mining Combine produced 2,574 tons of uranium in 2009, 27.01.2010 -

13. Apas Dzhumagulov spoke about the uranium prospects of KGRK/ Evening Bishkek, 14.01.2013 - doc/212011_apas_djymagylov_rasskazal_ob_yranovyh_perspe ktivah_kgrk.html

14. Yakubik A. International consultant. Engaging the private sector in the remediation of tailing dumps left over from uranium mining activities in Central Asia: recycling waste in tailing dumps to extract valuable components - of_tailings_rus.doc

15. At the Buranny station, 15.05.2009

16. The "uranium" issue in Kyrgyzstan - www.caresd. net/site. html?en=0&id=18740.

17. Shibutov Marat. Kazakhstan and Central Asia-leading uranium mining region, 2.02.2013 - http://iv-g.livejournal. com/828431.html

18. Kyrgyz uranium and gold projects (based on the official website of the company "MONARO MINING NL" - http //

19. "MONARO MINING" acquired several uranium deposits in Kyrgyzstan / / Nuclear News Agency.Ru, 11.11.2005.

20. Monitor Identifies Extension of Uranium Deposit In the Kyrgyz Republic. 9.09.2009 - asx/page10/files/MHL_Uranium_Extn_090909.pdf

21. Uranium in Central Asia - http //

22. Osmonalieva A. Uranium boom in Kyrgyzstan: risks and prospects, 31.07.2007 - / index. php?cont=long&id=9912&year=2007&today=23&month =07

23. Where does the uranium trail of Kirghiztan lead? 15.07.2007 -

24. Final report of the Government Commission for the Study of licensing issues of subsurface use and use of Mineral Deposits in the Kyrgyz Republic for 3 months of work. Cit. by: Kyrgyzstan: subsurface use, 14.01.2011 - http://iv-g.livejournal. com/431810.html

25. Kyrgyzstan has issued about 40 licenses for geological exploration and production of uranium and rare-earth metals, 13.06.2012 -

26. Rosatom State Corporation conducts research on uranium tailings dumps in Kyrgyzstan, 30.06.2009 - / index. php?id4=11935

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