Kazakhstan, the world’s top uranium producer, announced Thursday a long-term deal to supply the radioactive metal to China, as the resource-rich Central Asian country steps up cooperation with Beijing.
The deal was struck between the national atomic company, Kazatomprom, and China National Uranium Corporation Limited to deliver an unspecified amount of natural uranium concentrate, which is used in the nuclear fuel cycle.
“Volumes and specific contract terms cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality and commercial sensitivity,” Kazatomprom said in a statement.
“This contract with a major Chinese energy company will contribute to meeting China’s growing need for clean, net zero energy, while strengthening the historic long-term relationships between the two countries in the nuclear industry,” the company said.
China, western European nations, Turkey and the United States are jostling for influence in Central Asia, a resource-rich former Soviet-controlled region, traditionally seen as Russia’s backyard.
Kazakhstan produces more than 40 percent of the world’s uranium and has huge reserves of other strategic minerals.
During a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the region last week, Kazatomprom and French firm Framatome signed a cooperation deal in the nuclear fuel cycle.
Kazakhstan also cooperates with Russia on nuclear energy.
France, China, Russia and South Korea are competing to supply a reactor for what would be Kazakhstan’s first nuclear power plant, whose construction will be put to a referendum by the end of the year.