Kazakhstan, which mines almost 40 percent of the world’s uranium, thinks it has the market heft to function as a one-nation OPEC for the nuclear fuel.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose 13 members also pump about 40 percent of global output, is an “example” in the way it’s used its size to pursue higher pricing, according to Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, which owns the state’s 100 percent stake in uranium producer Kazatomprom.
Already enjoying the advantage of being the lowest-cost producer in the world, Kazatomprom was able to turn a profit last year even after prices collapsed, said Berik Beisengaliyev, the fund’s management board member. It also plans to build its own trading arm to assert greater sway in the market, he said in an interview in Almaty. A decision on an initial public offering of shares in the company is due in the first half of next year.
“Kazatomprom will be actively involved in uranium trading,” said Beisengaliyev, who’s also managing director of asset optimization at Samruk-Kazyna. “It’s possible to gain more influence” over prices, but “it’s not a matter of one day. It’s a lengthy process.”
Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, already flexed its might this year, sending prices up 10 percent when it announced plans to reduce 2017 output after a slump last year amid a global inventory glut.
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