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Top uranium miner Kazatomprom’s production down 11% in Q2 2022 due to supply chain issues

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(Kitco News) - Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom (LSE: KAP), the world's largest uranium producer, announced today that the company produced 2,729 tonnes of uranium (as U3O8) in Q2 2022 on an attributable basis, which is 11% lower than in Q2 2021 (3,073 tonnes).

According to the company's press-release, overall, uranium production in Kazakhstan (100% of KAP and its partners' production) was 5,116 tonnes in Q2 2022, a 7% decline over Q2 2021 (5,526 tonnes).

"Production on a 100% basis was lower in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2021, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wellfield development in 2021," the company said in a statement.

KAP explained that there is typically an eight- to ten-month lag between wellfield development and uranium extraction by in-situ recovery, therefore in 2021, delays and/or limited access to certain key materials and equipment affected the wellfield commissioning schedule at the time, resulting in lower production a half-year later in 2022.

Importantly, the company noted that uranium production on an attributable basis in Q2 2022 was lower compared to the same period in 2021 primarily due to the sale of a 49% share of "Ortalyk" LLP to CGN Mining UK Limited in July 2021.

KAP added that in Q2 2022, the company's uranium sales of 5,677 tonnes were 46% higher compared to the same period in 2021 (3,901 tonnes), primarily due to the timing of customer-scheduled deliveries.

The company pointed out that its average realized price of $40.91 per pound of U3O8 for Q2 2022 was 39% higher compared to the same period in 2021 ($29.41 per pound) due to a higher uranium spot price.

More importantly, KAP said that all 2022 guidance metrics remain unchanged from previous expectations at this time, adding that production volume in 2022 is expected to be between 21,000 tU and 22,000 tU on a 100% basis, while on an attributable basis, the company expects to produce between 10,900 tU and 11,500 tU.

"COVID-19 disrupted the overall production supply chain in 2021, resulting in a shortage of certain production materials, such as reagents and piping, which led to a shift in the commissioning schedule for new wellfields. Because of the shift, uranium production volumes through the first half of 2022 fell short of internal expectations," the company said.

"In addition to the delays in the commissioning schedule for new well fields, shortages of certain materials, including sulfuric acid, also have a negative impact on development and production activities. Despite these challenges, the Group is maintaining its 2022 production plan and making every effort to achieve it, though final year-end volumes could fall short if wellfield development and supply chain issues continue throughout the second-half of the year," KAP added.

Kazatomprom is the world's largest producer of uranium, with the company's attributable production representing approximately 24% of global primary uranium production in 2021.

The company benefits from the largest reserve base in the industry and operates - through its subsidiaries, JVs and Associates - 26 deposits, located in Kazakhstan, grouped into 14 mining assets. All of the company's mining operations are located in Kazakhstan and extract uranium using in-situ recovery technology.

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