Kazakhstan’s JSC National Atomic Company Kazatomprom plans to return staffing levels at its uranium mines to normal by around the end of this month. The number of employees at the mine sites was reduced between April and July in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a trading update yesterday, the company said: “Thanks in part to the timely pandemic response measures taken by Kazatomprom’s management in April, there have been no outbreaks at Kazatomprom’s sites, despite increasing cases across Kazakhstan and a number of cases among the off-site staff. With carefully developed plans to ensure compliance with distancing and hygiene requirements during shift changes and day-to-day operations, the company believes it can now safely begin to gradually bring staff back to the mine sites.”
Kazatomprom said its mine workers are expected to begin returning during the first-half of August, with COVID-19 testing for all of them. It expects the sites to be back to normal staffing levels within two to three weeks.
“The ramp-up will be carried out following strict health and safety protocols to minimise the risk of a potential outbreak,” Kazatomprom said, adding that it will “continue to monitor the situation at the operations, as well as all regional COVID-19 developments and governmental directives, ensuring that any further recommended actions to reduce the impact of the pandemic are implemented without delay”.
During the second quarter of 2020, the company produced 5213 tU, down 5% from the 5506 tU it produced in the corresponding period of 2019. Output during the first-half of the year was 10,434 tU, down 3% from 10,800 tU in the first half of 2019.
Kazatomprom said uranium production levels for the second-half of 2020 are expected to be “severely impacted” by the four-month shutdown of its mines. It expects to produce 19,250 tU in 2020, down 16% from 2019’s output of 22,808 tU. In February, the company said it expected its 2020 uranium output to remain at about 22,750-22,800 tU.
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