Pakistan may be building a new enrichment facility

A new uranium enrichment centrifuge plant may be under construction at the Khan Research Laboratories site at Kahuta in Pakistan. In an article published in Jane's Intelligence Review IHS Jane's and Project Alpha, a research group based at King's College London, identified the site, which is located at 33°36'48.4"N 73°22'20.1"E. It can be seen on Google Maps image dated July 8, 2016:

According to IHS Jane's assessment, the construction began at some point in 2015 and may be completed in 2017 or early 2018. Although the actual function of the facility cannot be determined with certainty from the satellite imagery at this time, a uranium enrichment plant appears to be a strong possibility.

Pakistan is believed to have two operational enrichment facilities, Kahuta and Gadwal, each having an estimated capacity of about 15-45 tSWU/year. The Kahuta complex has an older North production area where enrichment may have ended and a South area that was constructed later and may be active. It is possible that the plant currently under construction may use more advanced centrifuges, and could replace the South area facility. The Gadwal complex, located in a different place, is believed to be a relatively new facility that produces HEU from LEU produced at Kahuta.

The total enrichment capacity that Pakistan can operate may be constrained by uranium resources, since it also needs to fuel its four plutonium production reactors at Khushab, the fourth of which began operating in January 2015. Pakistan has had issues with availability of natural uranium. In 2009, Pakistan announced a new project "to mine uranium from Shanawa Uranium Mine, District Karak in NWFP". The mine is located at 32.8740 N, 71.0740 E. The project, estimated to cost Rs 3.348 billion (about $40 million at the time), was to be completed in 2014. Project funding was cut in 2011, but was apparently restored in 2013--the Government of Pakistan Public Sector Development plans since show a funding line for "MPB-2, Shanawa Uranium Mining Project (Karak), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa." There is no information concerning uranium production from this new mine.