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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tselinnyy Mining and Processing Combined Works

    Tselinny Gorno-Khimicheskii Kombinat (TGK) 
    Industrial Association "Tselinnyi Mining and Chemical Combine" 
    IA "Tselinnyi MCC" 
    Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan 
    Tselinnyy     works 5124'00"N   7128'00"E
    Stepnogorsk   PPL   5211'00"N   7226'00"E
    Stepnogorsk   PPL   5221'16"N   7153'13"E

A major uranium production center was developed near Stepnogorsk in the Akmola and Kokshetau oblasts in North Kazakhstan. The Industrial Association "Tselinnyi Mining and Chemical Combine" was established on the basis of large uranium, uranium-molybdenum and uranium-phosphorus ore deposits. Its construction started in 1956. The second largest uranium processing center in the Soviet Union [after Priargunskiy at Krasnokamensk], until recently Stepnogorsk was a secret city because of its strategic importance to the Soviet nuclear weapons program. The nearby Stepnogorsk bioweapons facility was once the world's largest biological warfare development and production facility,

The basic production facilities are located at a distance of 20 km from the town of Stepnogorsk. The uranium mining enterprises are located at distances of 120 to 500 km from the basic production facilities. There are in fact two towns in Kazakhstan called Stepnogorsk, and the uranium facility appears to be located to the southeast of them.

The association integrates a Hydrometallurgical processes (HMP) facility, a chemical plant, a heap leaching ground, a mining equipment maintenance and repair shop, a geologic group, and power & heating plants. The Tselinny Gorno-Khimicheskii Kombinat (TGK) uranium processing plant at Stepnogorsk has a design capacity of 2 million tonnes of ore per year, and at its maximum produced 4.8 million pounds of U3O8 (1850 tU) per year. Output from the plant declined during the 1990s because of the mining of lower grade ore from the underground mines, the cost of transporting ore to the plant, and the lack of reinvestment.

Tselinny Gorno-Khimicheskii Kombinat was originally developed to exploit the Manybayskoye open pit mine. Production commenced in 1957 and the pit was mined out by the late 1980s. As the original mine became depleted additional underground deposits were developed, but at increasing distances from the processing plant.

Between 1990 and 1997 uranium production from the underground mines fell 83%. Under World Wide Minerals' management, revised mining plans were developed to operate the Vostok and Zvezdnoye underground mines at Mine Management Unit No 1 (MMU#1) and the Grachevskoye underground mine at MMU#5, and to process the stockpile of previously mined ore.

Around 1970 initial exploration and development of situ leach (ISL) deposits began in southern Kazakhstan, utilising technology originally developed by Minatom in Uzbekistan. Uranium is extracted using a sulphuric acid leachate. The pregnant liquors are processed in plants on-site and the yellowcake is shipped to TGK for final toll processing, packaging and shipping. By 1990, ISL technology had become the predominant uranium production method in southern Kazakhstan, centered at Centralnoye and Stepnoye (in Shimkent oblast) and MMU#6 in Kzyl Orda oblast. The ISL mines and deposits represent a substantial portion of the present Kazakhstan uranium resources. The TGK project also includes the as yet undeveloped Semisby in situ leach deposit.

Sources and Methods

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