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London — Kazakhstan plans to produce a total of 21,600 mt of uranium in 2018, a decrease of almost 20% compared with the previously forecast 27,000 mt, Riaz Rizvi, Kazatomprom's chief commercial officer said in an interview.

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Rizvi said the company also planned to implement similar production cuts of around 20% in 2019 and 2020.

Kazatomprom has first rights on all uranium extraction in Kazakhstan and the large majority of the uranium production in the country, although it also has a series of mining joint ventures with other companies operating in the country. The company is the world's largest uranium producer.

These figures contrast slightly with numbers given out by Alexander Boytsov, director of the resource development program at Russian mining company Uranium One, in a speech at the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle conference in Madrid in April. Uranium One is a Russian mining company that has an upstream joint venture with Kazatomprom.

At that time, Boytsov said Kazakhstan would reach its maximum annual production of 25,000 mt of uranium soon and should maintain that level until 2020. After that, production from Kazakhstan was expected to decline about 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2035 because of resource depletion, Boytsov told the conference.

Rizvi said that "on the supply side, a lot of producers are taking difficult decisions on production" and launching output cuts. Rizvi also said that activity in the uranium spot market in 2018 was "significantly higher than it has been in the past 10 years."

He said there was a "lot of volume in the spot market, producers are coming into the market to cover shortfalls and more financial players are acquiring physical material."

However, Rizvi also said that of the volumes delivered in the physical market, the spot segment still comprised between only 5% and 10% of the total uranium market, adding that the traded uranium market was "still in its nascence."

Kazatomprom is preparing an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange, CEO Galymzhan Pirmatov said Monday in the interview.

Pirmatov said the company was currently undertaking an international road show prior to listing on the London Stock Exchange, adding that the company intended to list global repository receipts, or GDRs, in London and "shares in Astana," the capital of Kazakhstan.

The website of the London Stock Exchange defines GDRs as "negotiable certificates issued by depositary banks which represent ownership of a given number of a company's shares which can be listed and traded independently from the underlying shares." It adds that GDRs are "typically used by companies from emerging markets and marketed to professional investors only."

Samryk-Kazyna, the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund, will continue to hold at least 75% of the shares of Kazatomprom after the listing and no new shares will be issued, Pirmatov said.

Pirmatov and Rizvi both declined to provide a potential value for the upcoming IPO.

Kazatomprom announced October 15 it could move toward privatization with an IPO of up to 25% of the company at a time when it believes the uranium market is shifting away from depressed spot prices.

A Kazatomprom IPO would be part of the Kazakh government's efforts to privatize some of its holdings.

Akhmetzhan Yessimov, who chairs the sovereign wealth fund's management board, said earlier this year that IPOs would be concluded by the end of December for Kazatomprom as well as for the country's national airline Air Astana and telecommunications company Kazakhtelecom.

-- Oliver Adelman, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com