Tajikistan to study uranium from rare earth deposits

10 July 2014

A 22-year hiatus in uranium exploration in Tajikistan may be coming to an end.

Dzhumazoda Murod Hall, head of the country's geology administration, told local media on 8 July the government plans to approve a decade-long study of rare earth deposits starting next year.

Rare earth elements are a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the 15 contiguous lanthanoids plus the lighter scandium and yttrium. A large amount of uranium is in rare earth deposits and may be extracted as a by-product.

"We do not have proven uranium deposits in our country, but there are some uranium manifestations which could receive the status of deposits after approval of their reserves," Dzhumazoda said.

Areva held talks with Tajik officials last year on uranium exploration with the intention of signing a memorandum of cooperation in uranium exploration, but those talks have come to nothing, Dzhumazoda said.

"We were interested in working with the French company Areva Mines, which at one time had expressed interest, but, unfortunately, nothing came of it," Dzhumazoda said.

Areva confirmed the talks had come to an end.

"I can confirm that Areva was in discussions concerning exploration projects in Tajikistan. The effects following Fukushima and market difficulties have led us to refocus our exploration strategy on the priority areas where we are already working. This is why we have not followed up, for the moment, on a possible exploration project in Tajikistan, which remains a promising country for uranium," Areva spokesperson Katherine Berezowskyj told World Nuclear News on 9 July.

During Soviet times, uranium ore mined in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was milled into yellowcake at the rare metals industrial association Vostokredmet, which is located in the western part of the Fergana Valley. Tajikistan stopped mining uranium in 1992.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News