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Kazatomprom and Uranium One are Developing Unique ISL Uranium Mining Technology in Saline Areas

April 26, 2016

Joint ventures Karatau LLP and Akbastau JSC with equal participation of NAC Kazatomprom JSC and Uranium One, an international mining division of Rosatom State Corporation, are developing a unique in-situ leaching at  saline soils to enable extraction of a significant quantity of uranium reserves previously deemed technically  inaccessible. "For the first time in the world, test drilling and well installation was successfully completed in salt marsh conditions. The operating procedures were developed for the construction of roads and sites on saline soils," said Aleksei Matunov, Chief Geologist of Karatau LLP. – "The wellfields construction in the salt marshes was previously considered technically impossible because of the surface instability." In 2015, technical investigations were conducted to determine the possibility of uranium mining on saline soils of the Budenovskoye deposit in Kazakhstan, where the Karatau and Akbastau mines are located, in which about 15 percent of the resources  occur below a saline area – salty lakes and marshes. During the test  work, an effective method for  saline soils compaction was found, involving mechanical stabilization with the use of reinforced mesh. This saline soil compaction method was applied in practice on the pilot site of the Karatau mine using environmentally friendly materials. The success of the experimental work demonstrated the possibility of producing uranium in these areas. Experimental work will be continued through 2016, in order to determine the technical and economic parameters of the wellfields construction on saline soils. "Positive results of the test work will not only permit to  develop  resources s located below the saline areas, but also enable us to reevaluate the possibility of developing extensive adjacent areas  that have significant exploration potential," says Alexander Boytsov, Director of Resources Development at Uranium One. Karatau and Akbastau uranium mines are located in Suzak district of the South Kazakhstan region, and develop unique Budenovskoe uranium deposit – one of the world’s three largest one. The production applies  in-situ leaching method at depths beyond 700 meters. The deposit is being developed within the framework of the Comprehensive Programme of Kazakh-Russian cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy by the joint ventures Karatau LLP and Akbastau JSC with equal participation of NAC Kazatomprom JSC and Uranium One.

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