The only mining site capable of producing 4,000 tons of ISR uranium per year
Established in 1996 to mine the deposits of Muyunkum and Tortkuduk in South Kazakhstan, KATCO draws on the international experience and expertise of Orano and Kazatomprom to develop its production activities.
Steady production secured for the next 20 years
In 2009, the KATCO mine became the world's largest SRI mine. A total of 36,000 tonnes of uranium have been produced since production began in 2006.
2017, Orano and Kazatomprom strengthened their historic cooperation. By signing a strategic agreement in such areas as the development of the South Tortkuduk project (located close to two current fields), KATCO is perpetuating its production for the
next two decades.
South Tortkuduk Project
In January 2018, KATCO was granted a mining license for a new plot of the Muyunkum uranium field. KATCO geologists discovered this plot with high resource potential a
few years ago, close to two mining sites already operated by the company. These new reserves recorded in 2017 will cover more than 10 years of production for KATCO. The South Tortkuduk Project team is continuing development work on the deposit to
begin commissioning and production at the site by 2020.
A recovery method adapted to low-grade deposits
Recovering uranium without digging
The in situ recovery principle consists of injecting a leaching solution through shafts into the uranium deposit. The solution (dilute acid and water) dissolves the uranium as it passes through
the deposit and is pumped to the surface. The solution loaded with uranium is then transported by pipeline to the plant where the uranium is extracted and fixed on ion exchange resins. The solutions are enriched with acid and re-injected into the
wells, continuing the closed circuit process.
ISR technology has evolved with tight operational and regulatory controls. It causes little surface disturbance, does not generate tailings or waste rock, and requires less investment than conventional
mining. However, this technique is put into use only when the ore is located between impervious soil layers such as in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.