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Last December Uzbekistan announced a program to attract $50 billion in direct foreign investment (FDI) into Uzbekistan within the next five years.
Now Uzbekistan is seeking Chinese investment in the country’s uranium mining sector.
If the project comes to fruition, it will jointly develop the country’s uranium sands fields, according to Uzbekistan’s Committee of Geology and Mineral Resources, which gave no specific information on the possible Chinese companies participating in the project. The output will provide the resource base for Uzbekistan’s Navoiskoie ore-enriching plant, which has a monopoly on producing, enriching and exporting uranium in Uzbekistan.
While Uzbekistan’s government has tried to attract foreign investors to develop dark-shale uranium fields, Tashkent has not developed the deposits up to now due to the large investments required, Russkoe Informatsionnoe Agenstvo RIA Novosti reported.
The cooperation plan was approved during Uzbek President Islam Karimov's visit to China four months ago.
In August 2009 China's CGNPC Uranium Resources Co. and Uzbekistan's Geology and Mineral Resources Committee established the Uz-China Uran joint venture on a parity basis, with a charter capital of $4.6 million to prospect for uranium in the Kyzyl Kum Desert.
Uranium production in Uzbekistan is limited to three leaching operations in Uchkuduk, Zafarabad, and Nurabad, which are under the control of the Navoi Mining and Metallurgy Combine in Navoi city. All uranium production in Uzbekistan is the property of the Uzbek government. Before the 1991 disintegration of the USSR, all uranium produced in Uzbekistan was shipped to Russia but since 1992 Uzbek uranium production is exported, primarily to the United States through the U.S.-based intermediary Nukem, Inc.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com