Monday, April 4, 2011

Russia Sneaks Back into Tanzanian Uranium

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tanzania’s Mkuju uranium assets are back on the auction block with Russian firm JSC Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) purchasing assets from Aussie firm Mantra Resources Ltd. The transaction, originally priced at $1.16 billion, will sell for $944 million with the deal expected to close in July.

The mining plant in southern Tanzania is expected to begin operating in Q4 2013. Minister for Energy and Minerals, William Ngeleja, told The EastAfrican that the Mkuju River Project is shaping up into a truly world-class venture and has the potential, in its first phase of development, to position Tanzania as the third, and perhaps even the second largest producer of uranium in Africa. Ngeleja said that the pre-feasibility study in March 2010 indicated that once developed the mine would produce 1,650 tons of uranium oxide a year. This figure would propel it to become the eighth largest producer in the world overtaking the US which produced 1,560 tons in 2009.

The Tanzanian government expects to reap $630 million as profit over the mine’s 15-year span.

Interestingly, in 2009 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev traveled throughout Africa promoting nuclear ambitions taking particular interest in Namibia’s vast uranium deposits. Yury Trutnev, Russia's Natural Resources Minister, said Moscow was interested in helping Namibia develop its nuclear industry. "Namibia very much needs to develop its energy sphere," he said. And in October 2010, Russian company Borodino signed a deal with the East African country to finance the construction of the $700 million Rumakali hydropower plant in October. This, of course, is in addition to Russia’s alliance with China over African ventures coincidentally enough in hydrocarbon and uranium-rich countries.

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