Cameco Corp. and Kazakhstan's state-owned uranium producer, National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom JSC, completed the restructuring of their Inkai uranium joint venture in Kazakhstan, according to a Dec. 11 release.
The restructuring will take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and will see Cameco's ownership in the joint venture reducing to 40% from 60% and Kazatomprom's stake rising to 60% from 40%.
Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel said the transaction secures the company's access to a large, low-cost production source through 2045 while production decisions will depend on market conditions and the terms of the resource use contract.
The amendment to the resource use contract gives Inkai the right to increase production to 10.4 million pounds of triuranium octoxide, or U3O8, from the now-permitted limit of 5.2 million pounds, in which Cameco's share is 3 million pounds.
The joint venture also has the right to produce from blocks 1, 2, and 3 until 2045. The current lease for block 1 ends in 2024 and in 2030 for blocks 2 and 3.
The boundaries of these blocks have been adjusted to match the agreed production profile of Inkai to 2045.
Cameco's loan obligations to fund the exploration and evaluation of block 3 were restructured to allow priority repayment. As of Sept. 30, the loan balance was US$124 million.
Considering the amendment to resource use contract and the adjustment to Cameco's ownership stake in the joint venture, the miner's share of Inkai reserves now total 107.9 million pounds of U3O8. Measured, indicated and inferred resources total 42.8 million pounds of U3O8.
Cameco and Kazatomprom have completed a feasibility study to evaluate construction for a uranium refinery in Kazakhstan with the capacity to produce 6,000 tonne-units annually as uranium trioxide.
Earlier in December, Kazatomprom said it will slash its production by 20% over the next three years to better align its production levels with demand.