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(RFE/RL) Almaty, 23 January 2006 -- Kazakhstan's national atomic-energy company and two Japanese firms have signed a multimillion-dollar deal on the joint operation of a uranium mine in southern Kazakhstan, according to a company news release.

KazaAtomProm will hold a controlling 65-percent stake in the joint venture, which is aimed at developing the mine in the area of Kazakhstan's Mynkuduk deposit.

Japan's Sumitomo Corporation will have a 25-percent stake, while the Kansai Electric Power Co -- Japan's second-largest electric utility company -- will control 10 percent.

The joint venture is expected to begin production in 2007. Company officials say they hope the mine will reach its design capacity of producing 1,000 tons of uranium a year by about 2010.

The mine is part of a plan by KazAtomProm to boost its overall production more than fourfold by 2010 and become the world's largest uranium producer.

(with additional AP reporting)
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