Uranium Miner Will Spend $7.4Bln for Expansion Plan

Atomredmetzoloto, the state's uranium miner, plans to invest 203.6 billion rubles ($7.4 billion) by 2015 to fund a massive expansion plan as demand from the nuclear power sector grows, the company's general director said on Wednesday.

CEO Vadim Zhivov said the company, which produces uranium in Russia and Kazakhstan, planned to increase output of the metal to 4,300 tons next year from 3,880 tons expected in 2008.

Zhivov said the financial crisis had not affected his company's spending plans so far, despite the fact that 172.3 billion rubles ($6.3 billion) of the planned investment would not be funded from the state budget.

"In the next two years, we can finance this through our own means," said Zhivov.

Russia holds more than 10 percent of the world's uranium reserves and is positioning itself as a major player in meeting growing demand from the fast-growing nuclear industry.

Zhivov said Atomredmetzoloto, or ARMZ, the mining arm of state atomic agency Rosatom, would seek external funding from banks and would team up with strategic partners to develop new deposits, most of them in Siberia and the Far East.

"All our strategic partners, in Japan, France and Canada, have confirmed their plans," Zhivov said. "Of course, there could be corrections to these plans, but nobody has said anything about that."

Zhivov said the Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency would distribute new licenses next year for ARMZ's joint venture with Cameco.

The agency estimates the country's uranium reserves at 545,600 tons.