14 April 2021
The pandemic has shown the resilience of the nuclear industry to act responsibly, both as a supplier of energy and as an employer, the head of the world’s biggest uranium producer said today. In his address to delegates at the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle forum, Kazatomprom CEO Galymzhan Pirmatov said the wellbeing of the company’s 20,000 employees was his first priority.
Kazatomprom is Kazakhstan’s national operator to import and export uranium, rare metals and nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants. It accounts for 20% of global primary uranium production, has more than 300,000 tonnes of uranium reserves and its assets are exclusively located in Kazakhstan. In 2018, it completed a successful IPO on the Astana and London stock exchanges.
“The world has faced a unique set of challenges this past year,” Pirmatov said. “Each of us has felt the effect of the COVID pandemic; our entire lifestyle has changed with this new phenomenon forcing us to adjust to a new reality. While the availability and distribution of several vaccines has generated much waited for hope, it is clear that we have not yet overcome the crisis,” he said. “The philosophy that has carried us through the worst of the pandemic was that crises do not define us; it’s how we act in a major crisis that defines us.”
The entire nuclear industry was “put to the test”, he said.
“As a company, we put safety and the health and wellbeing of all our employees and the communities where we operate above all else, including production and profit. We took early and decisive measures as soon as the first cases of COVID were discovered in Kazakhstan in early March 2020, reducing staffing levels to a minimum and introducing rigorous safety protocols at all our operations. All well-field development work and non-core activities were suspended in early April. We started to resume those activities in August, when we felt comfortable that safety protocols and the procedures we had developed during the suspension were solidly in place,” he said.
Kazaktomprom has been working with international companies, such as Cameco, China General Nuclear, Orano and Rosatom, for more than 20 years, and it is building the International Atomic Energy Agency’s first low-enriched uranium fuel bank, at the Ulba metallurgical plant.
Pirmatov thanked all of Kazatomprom’s joint venture partners for their support with its proactive measures to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
“As the largest uranium producer in the world, we fully understand that our customers, suppliers and partners are relying on us. Despite the challenges during the pandemic, we continue to deliver to our customers where and when they need our product,” he said. “Now, more than ever, we must support and take care of each other, so let’s work together across all parts of the fuel cycle to keep bringing the world the benefits of safe, clean and reliable nuclear power.”
Kazatomprom says it has the lowest cost uranium production in the world. It uses the in-situ recovery mining method, which Kazatomprom describes as the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly of all. The nuclear fuel cycle is at the core of its operations, from uranium mining and processing to the production of nuclear fuel components, and it is developing further, including the construction of a fuel assembly production plant in Kazakhstan.
Researched and written by World Nuclear News
Read More: Kazatomprom put health before profit during pandemic, says Pirmatov : Corporate