State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has secured a five-year license to conduct uranium exploration in Uzbekistan.

The license has been gained with a minimal funding of exploration at $3m, reported local news agencies citing a source in the Uzbek government.

According to the source, if the Japanese company finds uranium on the contract site, it will possess exclusive rights to hold direct talks and agree on a production-sharing deal with the Uzbek government.

JOGMEC has entered into an agreement with Uzbekistan’s state-owned Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinat (NMMC) to carry out joint uranium exploration in the country.

The deal marks the first contract with a foreign company to explore and develop sandstone-type uranium deposits in Uzbekistan.