Flooding impacts Kazakh mines

19 March 2014

Flooding of access roads due to snow melt is causing disruption to operations at a number of uranium mines in southern Kazakhstan. Exploration work has also been suspended at other projects.

Inkai JV 460 (Cameco)
The processing plant at the Inkai project (Image: Cameco)

National atomic company Kazatomprom reported that snow melt has damaged roads near the village of Taykonur in the Sozak region of South Kazakhstan oblast. This has restricted access of vehicles delivering chemical reagents to the Inkai in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mine and processing plant in central Kazakhstan. The Inkai project is owned and operated by Joint Venture Inkai, which is 60% owned by Canada's Cameco and 40% by Kazatomprom.

Normal operation is expected to resume at Inkai within three months, once all the access roads have been repaired.

Meanwhile, flooding of roads has also halted operations by Volkovgeology JSC, which provides geological services to Kazatomprom at several uranium projects in the Sozak region. However, operations at these projects, many run as joint venture projects, are expected to resume within seven to ten days.

Volkovgeology will carry out routine maintenance and scheduled repair work while these mines are out of operation. Kazatomprom noted that as Volkovgeology has so far been conducting exploratory drilling work ahead of schedule this year, none of these project schedules will be delayed.

Kazatomprom said that its Baiken-U LLP and Kyzylkum LLP subsidiaries and their SKZ-U LLP joint venture had formed ten specialist teams with suitable equipment for helping to restore other flood-hit areas in South Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda oblasts.

Emergency operation centres have been set up at Kazatomprom's enterprises to monitor the situation and respond accordingly if required.

In February 2013, uranium mining in the Sozak region was temporarily suspended after extreme weather brought down power lines and flooded villages.

Kazakhstan is the world's leading uranium producing country, producing 22,500 tonnes - around 38% of world output - in 2013. Kazatomprom's own share of this production came to some 12,600 tonnes.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News