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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhs See Big Growth In Uranium

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh state nuclear company Kazatomprom plans to grab 40 percent of the global uranium market in a decade as it develops ties with key consumers such as Japan, its head said Wednesday.

Kazatomprom President Mukhtar Dzhakishev said his main goal was to transform the world's No.3 uranium producer into a global corporation selling end products such as fuel rods directly to export markets.

"We currently hold 9-10 percent of the global market, maybe 11. ... We plan to achieve about 40 percent in terms of production by 2016-17," Dzhakishev said.

He was speaking ahead of Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari's visit to Kazakhstan next week when the two plan to sign deals that would help Kazatomprom to secure 40 percent of the Japanese nuclear fuel market by 2012.

Home to a fifth of global uranium reserves, the Kazakhstan wants to be the world's No.1 uranium producer by 2010, surpassing Australia and Canada.

Amari is bringing more than 100 top Japanese business figures such as the heads of Marubeni, Sumitomo, Toshiba, Tokyo Electric Power and others.

The visit is part of Japan's efforts to secure steady uranium fuel supplies as high oil prices and attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions have put the spotlight back on nuclear energy, which provides Japan with 30 percent of the electricity it uses.

Japan's willingness to develop ties with Kazakhstan also underlines its resolve to play a more active geopolitical role in Central Asia, where Russia, China and the United States are jostling for influence.