1. The European Commission released the "Energy 2020 Strategy" which defines the energy priorities for the next ten years for a competitive, sustainable and secure energy in Europe. It sets actions to be taken so as to tackle the challenges of saving energy, to have a competitive market and secure supplies, and boosting Europe's technological leadership and effectively negotiate with international partners.
2. In order to limit proliferation by reducing the incentive for starting domestic uranium enrichment programs, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board has approved a nuclear fuel bank.
3. According to the New Policies Scenario as developed by the World Energy Outlook 2010 of the International Energy Agency, governments' intentions are interpreted as measures taken. The scenario projects global energy consumption to increase by 36% by 2035 in which fossil fuels would account for 53% of the increase. Nuclear's share increases from 6% to 8% in 2035, assuming life extension policies as well as new reactor construction.
4. China announced plans to raise its nuclear capacity to 112 GW by 2020, as nuclear development continues to proceed faster than anticipated. This represents a considerable growth as compared with announcement made earlier in May (70 GW).
5. Rosatom has published an Annual Report for the first time in its history and said its sales grew by 21% in 2009 while costs by only 18%. Rosatom is the world's most vertically integrated nuclear company as its subsidiaries are active in many sectors from uranium mining to fuel production or waste management etc. and conduct research in nuclear medicine.
6. Rosatom represents alone more than 40% of global uranium enrichment capacity but also strengthened its position in acquiring uranium mining assets abroad. This was best exemplified by the purchase of a majority stake in Canadian mining company, by its uranium-mining branch ARMZ.
7. French company AREVA has inaugurated the Georges Besse II facility which is based on centrifuge enrichment technology and will have a production capacity of 7.5 million SWU. Its initial start up is foreseen in 2011 but its capacity could be increased later to 11 million SWU.
8. Bulgaria rejected Russia’s price for Belene to build the twin VVER-1000 units as Russian vendor Atomstroyexport increased the price of the intitial €3.9 billion in January 2008 to €6.3 billion because of delays in the plant’s construction.
9. The creation of a nuclear safety agency was announced in Italy, which is seen as a fundamental move for integrate nuclear power in Italy's energy strategy. The new agency is to oversee the selection, construction and operation of nuclear plants. Construction of nuclear plants could begin in 2013, and nuclear could generate ca. 25% of the generated power by 2020.
10. The amendment to the German energy law that extends operating life of the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors by respectively 8 and 14 years has been signed into law by President Christian Wulff in December.
11. The tender for a new plant to replace the Ignalina nuclear station has failed in Lithuania as South Korea’s state energy firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) withdrew from it. Lithuanian officials confirmed that a new deadline was not set for the negotiations with potential investors.
12. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has announced in November that construction of two 700 MWe indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors has started at the Kakrapar site, to begin commercial operation in respectively June and December 2015.
13. Poland has joined the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in November and the government aims to have the policy and legal framework for a nuclear power program in place by mid-2011, with plans to build 6,000 MWe capacity at two sites.
1. According to the "EU Energy Trends to 2030" report, investing heavily in renewable sources of energy at European level would lead to less carbon emissions permits being applied for in 2020, and thus to lower prices. A study developed by the Athens Technical University indicated that, by 2020, carbon prices might rise to €16.5/tonne (€18.7/t in 2030). The European Commission's estimates indicate that 64% of the new capacity will be renewable energy, 17% gas, 12% coal, 4% nuclear and 3% oil.
2. According to the IAEA report on 'International Status and Prospects of Nuclear Power' released in September, since 2008 there has been a decrease in nuclear power’s share of world electricity. Although new nuclear projects with short lead times have been affected (mostly in Europe and North America), on the long run, however, nuclear power activities will continue to be pursued, due to rising energy demand and concerns about climate change (expansion projects mainly in Asian countries).
3. The new UK government’s latest Energy Policy Statement, released in October, includes details on how the country will support and promote new reactors. The sale of the 1/3 share that the government holds in Urenco (as a joint venture, alongside the Dutch government and German companies RWE and E.ON) is also being taken into consideration, with a view to using the revenue thereof for investments in low-carbon technology.
4. As part of their efforts to develop a new reliable and affordable energy supply policy, the German Ministry for Environment and Economy Ministry published in September a draft “Energy Concept”. In addition to strategies on developing renewables and reducing CO2 emissions, the document provides for a policy to extend the country's NPPs operating licenses, on an average of 12 years beyond current shutdown dates, 2021-2023.
5. In a report published in August, the Swedish Energy Agency declared that, by 2012 Sweden might become a net electricity exporter as the nuclear production of its 10 operating reactors is expected to attain 70 million MWh.
6. China presented a 10-year investment plan of US$736 billion on clean energy. The project covers sectors like nuclear power, wind, solar, biomass, clean coal, unconventional gas, smart grid, etc and aims at increasing, by 2020, the non-fossil fuel component of China's supply to 15% of its total primary energy demand, from less than 8% in 2009.
7. With a view to setting up a United Company, Rosatom and Kazatomprom had already created a joint venture to sell natural and low-enriched uranium. Russia and Kazakhstan had previously envisaged to jointly build a Uranium Enrichment Center (UEC) through a commercial JV, which would have increased the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine's capacity by 5 million SWU.
8. In September Energy Resources Holding (NL) announced having submitted its application for a project designed to ensure some 2,500 MW of additional nuclear generating capacity at the Borssele site (a similar application had already been presented by the Dutch utility Delta). The construction of this new capacity should begin in 2015, while by 2019 there should already be electricity production.
9. If, by the end of 2010, Kazakhstan reaches the 18,222 tU estimated annual production, that would represent a 39% increase compared to 2009’s 13,900 tU. Holding more than 15% of uranium reserves worldwide and potentially able to produce more than 25,000 tU by 2015, Kazakhstan is also interested in developing nuclear energy for domestic use, by building at least one NPP by 2020.
10. In a statement released in September, the Australian Uranium Association expressed its concerns that the new Australian minority government, supported by the Green Party, may be somewhat opposed to uranium mining expansion, while also considering imposing a tax on uranium mines.
11. CEZ is holding discussions with various potential foreign partners (Areva, Westinghouse Electric and Atomstroyexport) for the project of extending the Temelin NPP, the Czech company is looking for offers allowing it the choice of various fuel suppliers.
12. One of Romania's foreign partners in the joint venture project aimed at the expansion of the Romanian NPP in Cernavoda (alongside Electrabel, Enel, Iberdrola and RWE), CEZ has expressed its intentions of selling its 9.15% share thereof. So far, the Romanian government has not stated whether they will look for a new partner or if the other shareholders' stakes will be re-evaluated.
13. The project of expanding Australia's Olympic Dam underground mine by converting it into an open pit should begin in a few years. Expected to last for ca. 11 years and to cost around $16 billion, the expansion would lead to copper and uranium productions almost four times higher and to eight times more gold output. BHP Billiton will spend around $5 billion as a first input.
14. Nuclear energy research organisations from France, Japan and the US expressed their interest for a closer cooperation on fast reactors, mainly as regards prototype development thereof and related technologies. Further ahead, there could be joint activities in the field of component design and fabrication, as well as common use of the three countries' respective facilities for component testing, fuel development and/or safety testing. An advanced fast reactor fuel cycle might also be envisaged in the framework of this collaboration.
15. TENAM Corp., TENEX's new Washington, DC-based subsidiary, will mainly assist the mother company in concluding direct contracts with US utilities, while also trying to create new business opportunities in the US. At the same time, TENAM will offer various nuclear fuel cycle related services to other North and South American countries.
The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published their 2009 Red Book on uranium resources and demand. There are rising trends in terms of worldwide exploration and mine development, as well as interest in finding new resources. As there have been constant increases in mining-related costs since 2003 onwards, avoiding subsequent supply cutbacks calls for incentives from the industry for continuous exploration and mine development activities.
France’s CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique) and E.ON signed an
agreement on nuclear energy cooperation, aimed at sharing research
results and expanding research to second, third and even fourth generation
reactors, in and outside of France.
Following a 4-year upgrade, Areva's Romans fuel fabrication plant will be able to increase its production capacity by 50%, thus avoiding any further potential delivery delays. The major part of the investment went into safety and environmental issues.
Berkeley Resources Ltd. (Australia), which owns, in a
joint venture with Spanish fabricator Enusa, four mining areas in
Spain (Salamanca uranium project), signed
a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Korea Electric Power Corp.
Kepco is willing to invest US$70 million in the Salamanca project, thus being entitled to buy 35% of the future uranium production of the respective mines.
As the estimated building costs of two new CANDU reactors at the Cernavoda NPP (units 3 and 4) reach almost €4 billion, the Romanian government has decided
to lower its ownership stake (initially established at 51%).
According to a recent statement from EDF Group, its first Areva EPR, Flamanville-3, might only begin operations in 2014, instead of the initial 2012 target.
According to the press, following a uranium development agreement signed with Jordan on July 27, AREVA will provide the Arab country with uranium exploration and extraction services.
Spain's Vandellós II NPP (owned jointly by Endesa, 72% and Iberdrola, 28%) will function until 2027, as its operating license has been granted a 10-year-extension.
CEZ is holding discussions with various potential foreign investors (Areva, Westinghouse Electric and Atomstroyexport) for the project (an investment of up to US$8 billion) of adding two new reactors at Temelin NPP. There are also ongoing talks about the prospect of a 5th unit being built at the Dukovany NPP.
According to a statement released July 2nd, EDF Energy would like to have its first UK Areva EPR reactor approved by UK's Infrastructure Planning Commission no later than this winter. The first of four units planned, the Hinkley Point C should be operational by 2018.
According to a recent report by France’s High Committee for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Safety, the depleted uranium should not be considered waste, but future fuel for the beyond-2040 generation of reactors.
In the first half of 2010, Kazakhstan's production of uranium increased by 41% as compared to the same period in 2009, and totalled 8,452 tU. It is expected that total Kazakhstan’s uranium production will reach 18,222 tU by the end of 2010.
TENEX signed a EUP-supply contract with Eskom Holdings Ltd.,
covering deliveries from Russia to South Africa from 2011
to 2017/2018. Under the terms of the agreement, Russian EUP supplies
will be mainly destined for Koeberg NPP and will cover some 45% of
South Africa’s market needs.
With a view to setting up a United Company, Rosatom and Kazatomprom have already agreed on a common approach regarding the selling of uranium products and related services, including enrichment. Moreover, Kazatomprom will soon be entitled to shares of Rosatom's Urals Electrochemical Combine.
On June 28, India and Canada signed a civil nuclear agreement. There are currently eight countries to have entered such an agreement with India since 2008, when a 34-year ban on India, imposed by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, was lifted.
Designed to provide for approximately 40-50% of the U.S. SWU demand (i.e., at full capacity, 5.9 million SWU/year), the New Mexico-based URENCO USA centrifuge plant started producing enriched uranium on June 25.
If granted construction and 40-year-operation license by the NRC, Global Laser Enrichment could carry out their project of building a laser enrichment facility in North Carolina, which would have a capacity of almost 6.4 million SWUs (with an enrichment assay of up to 8%). The already published draft Environmental Impact Statement is in favour of the project.
According to the press, on June 12, Kazatomprom and Cgnpc, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp., signed a uranium concentrate supply contract.
Uranium Marketing Annual Report of the US Energy Information Administration on 2009 data was published on August 18th. During 2009, owners and operators of U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors bought 50 million pounds of natural uranium equivalent. The weighted-average price of the delivered natural uranium was $45.86 per pound U3O8.
With a view to improving EU's current legislation on nuclear third-party liability, the European Commission agreed on the setting up of an expert group to look for ways of harmonising nuclear liability and/or liability insurance regimes across the EU. The existing harmonised systems on nuclear safety and nuclear waste management are partly due to the contribution of expert groups representing EU country regulators and stakeholders.
The European Commission is currently investigating whether the non-competition clauses included in the 2001 shareholders’ pact between Framatome (now Areva) and Siemens represent an infringement of EU competition rules.
The latest roadmap on nuclear energy perspectives released by the OECD, International Energy Agency and Nuclear Energy Agency foresees that, in 2050, nuclear power will account for almost 25% of the total amount of electricity generation. As currently world nuclear generating capacity amounts only to about 376 GW net, considerable efforts will be needed in the near future, including financial investments in nuclear power between 2010 and 2050 of nearly $4 trillion.
The bill which will allow Swedish firms to build new reactors in order to replace the existing ten reactors (currently providing over 40% of the country's electricity) was voted and will come into effect on January 1st, 2011. There will be no state subsidy for this project.
According to a statement from the Finnish utility TVO, Olkiluoto-3 unit is unlikely to begin generating electricity until 2013, despite statements from supplier Areva who indicated 2012 as starting point of fuel loading and nuclear operation of the unit.
GDF SUEZ and E.ON signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on future development of nuclear reactors in Italy (finding possible plant locations, developing reactor technologies and industrial partnership).
According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, most Europeans (82% of the persons surveyed) are in favour of establishing European legislation on radioactive waste management.
CEZ applied for an environmental impact assessment of the two planned reactors at the Temelin nuclear plant. The final decision on the technology envisaged is expected to be taken in early 2012.
UK’s new coalition government, Conservative – Liberal Democrat, will see further developments of new reactors, while still allowing the Liberal Democrats to voice their opposition to nuclear power.
On April 20, US authorities fixed the legal framework for the DOE's dealings with surplus uranium from its inventory. The material would be used mainly to cover new US reactors' first core reloads (up to 20 millions lb U3O8), then for further transfers to various other NRC-licensed entities.
Two years after the Bush Administration had submitted then withdrawn the proposal, President Obama submits to Congress approval a 123 Agreement for nuclear cooperation with Russia. Under such an agreement, the terms of bilateral nuclear cooperation with Russia are fixed, allowing Russia to conduct nuclear trade involving US-obligated nuclear material.
New Russian approaches to boost nuclear market - According to a Rosatom official, nuclear market has overcome the financial crisis. Currently, in this field, Russia is able to act as project investor or operator, having already agreements with Armenia and Turkey and willing to offer assistance in terms of uranium or financial resources to other countries as well.
According to the 2010 Annual Energy Outlook published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), almost 70% of the "clean" electricity produced in 2009 was generated by nuclear power, with a recorded annual decrease in total energy-related emissions of 7%. EIA foresees that, by 2035, as compared to the 2008 figures, there would be an 11% increase in the production of nuclear energy, which would, however, account for only 17% of the total amount of electricity generation (20% in 2008).
For the first quarter of 2010, Kazakhstan's production of uranium increased by 63% as compared to the same period in 2009. According to a statement from a Kazatomprom official, future uranium production is expected to reach 25,000-26,000 tU.
Cameco expects its uranium sales will face a 50 million lb cutback in 2010 in the international long-term contract market, unless, as they stated in a recent market analysis, there is going to be an increase in the demand from emerging markets.
Following an agreement signed with Sellafield MOX Plant, Chubu Electric Power will be the first Japanese power company to have MOX fuel fabricated in the UK.
Areva informed that, in between 2006 and 2009, France shipped about 32,200 tU of depleted, natural and low-enriched uranium to Russia, while the latter shipped back to France some 3,090 tU of re-enriched natural UF6.
Areva has received a conditional $2 billion loan guarantee from DOE for the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility in Idaho, which will use advanced centrifuge technology currently used at Georges Besse II enrichment plant (France).
According to a Cameco official, a new uranium conversion plant run jointly by Cameco and Kazatomprom is likely to be built in Kazakhstan in 2016-2017. A feasibility study is planned in the next two years to check if the minimum 12,000 tons conversion capacity could be achieved.
On June 8, during the “Atomexpo 2010" conference in Moscow, a Cooperation Agreement was signed between Russia's Rosatom and CEA (France's atomic energy and alternative energy commission) on several nuclear fuel cycle issues, ranging from developing a next-generation sodium-cooled fast reactor to reprocessing and radwaste treatment technology.
Imports of Australian uranium allowed in Russia – The nuclear agreement under which Australia will be able to export uranium to Russia has been ratified by the latter. Although it still needs Australia's approval before any physical shipment takes place, the agreement further expands Rosatom's role on the international market.
On June 10, LES received the green light from NRC to start introducing UF6 into the Urenco USA enrichment facility in New Mexico.
The European Commission is consulting the public on possible EU
nuclear waste management legislation.
EU legislation would be required as a driver for member states to make decisions and define requirements to ensure safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste by public or private organisations in their countries. The most recent Eurobarometer survey has consistently shown that Europeans would accept nuclear power more readily if there were a safe solution for final waste disposal. The 2008 poll found that support for nuclear power on average across the EU increased from 44% to 61% if a safe waste solution were assumed.
Nuclear energy is a highly competitive energy option for the production of baseload electricity, the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have concluded in their latest joint study "Projected Costs of Generating Electricity" on the costs of electricity generation for a wide variety of fuels and technologies, including coal (with and without carbon capture), natural gas, nuclear, hydro, on-shore and off-shore wind, solar, biomass, wave, tidal and combined heat and power (CHP). Assuming a carbon price of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2), the study provides results for two real interest rates of 5% and 10%. When financing costs are low (5%), nuclear energy followed by coal with CCS are the most competitive solutions. With higher financing costs (10%), coal-fired generation followed by coal with CCS and gas-fired CCGTs are the cheapest sources of electricity. The study concludes that nuclear, coal, gas and, where local conditions are favourable, hydro and wind, are now fairly competitive generation technologies for baseload power generation.
The fuel cycle front-end business, led by uranium mining and enrichment, was the most profitable sector of AREVA’s activities last year, and has generated total revenue of €14 billion in 2009. But Areva said it could postpone some new mines and decrease its 12,000-metric-ton U production target for 2012 in light of slumping market prices.
start-up of Imouraren mine until 2013/2014
that is expected to produce 5,000 tU per year and with a price tag of €1.2 billion,
Imouraren would become the largest uranium mine in Africa.
AREVA is carrying out detailed studies, as well as building access roads, an airport, and offices at the mine site.
The new Niger government plans to review mining agreements with companies, including AREVA, to ensure they are fair to Niger. Uranium mines accounted for about 6% of global uranium production in 2008. Uranium is produced at AREVA’s Somair and Cominak mines and the company is investing in the development of the Imouraren uranium mine. AREVA “is ready to meet the Nigerien authorities if they wish to review the mining agreements signed with their government,” the company told Bloomberg.
Ministers met to discuss access to civilian nuclear energy at a conference in Paris, March 8-9, initiated by France, the IAEA and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a political initiative to oblige international financing institutions and development banks to finance civilian nuclear projects. France will defend the right of all countries that meet their international obligations in non-proliferation and safety to have civilian nuclear energy, including the right to legitimately develop all aspects necessary for the full use of this technology.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed an interagency agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to evaluate the use of mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, made from US surplus weapons plutonium, in TVA’s nuclear plants. Converting the plutonium from spent fuel is part of US efforts to dispose of 34 tonnes of surplus weapon-grade plutonium withdrawn from the weapons program. This is complemented by parallel efforts to dispose of an equal quantity of Russian surplus weapon-grade plutonium.
Japan signed a nuclear pact with Kazakhstan , allowing it to obtain stable uranium supplies in exchange for nuclear technology. It follows a nuclear supply deal with Russia last year that will enable trade in technology and uranium while addressing proliferation issues.
The Polish government announced the country’s first nuclear reactor would be built in Zarnowiec . This town was chosen from a total of 28 potential locations in the northern part of the country, for its proximity to large amounts of cooling water from a nearby lake. It is expected the new plant to begin commercial operations by 2021. Poland is also contemplating a decision to build a channel that would supply the reactors with coolant from seawater.
Poll finds record support for nuclear power in the US. A record 62% of respondents in the US support nuclear energy as a means to supplying electricity. The survey of 1,014 US adults found that 74% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats favour nuclear energy. Though a majority of Americans has long supported nuclear power, Gallup said the latest rating is the highest since polling began on the issue in 1994.
The Australian government has cleared the way to export uranium to Russia. The treaty, not yet been ratified, stipulates that uranium to be delivered to Russia could be used only for peaceful purposes in accordance with IAEA requirements and at the facilities approved by Australian suppliers. To the contrary, Australia will not supply uranium to India as the government decided to not change its uranium supply policy since India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Commissioning of the Honeymoon uranium mine in South Australia is reportedly scheduled to begin in April. First production from Honeymoon, Australia’s fourth uranium mine, is expected before the end of 2010. The project partners reportedly plan annual production of 400 tU uranium for at least six years, making it the smallest of Australia’s operating uranium mines.
French CEA and its partners finalise the design for a prototype Generation IV sodium-cooled fast reactor , scheduled to operate by 2020 and planned for construction at Marcoule with a capacity of 600 MWe. The reactor called Astrid is seen as the prototype for a series of commercial reactors that would begin to be deployed in France around 2050. France plans a series of fast neutron reactors to recycle plutonium and uranium from the current generation of LWRs and transmute long-lived minor actinides produced during the fission process.
China to build 28 nuclear reactors by 2020 due to rising demand for clean energy in the country and has already begun construction on 20 of the 28 reactors, so as to add 40 GW of nuclear capacity by 2020. Each one GW reactor costs roughly US$2.1 billion to build and will provide enough electricity to power roughly 800,000 average homes. In addition, the construction of the 1,650 MW European Pressurized Reactor began in October 2009 at Taishan, to begin operation in 2013, and a second EPR is scheduled to begin operation in 2015.
Atmea 1 design to be submitted to regulators. Atmea is the joint venture of Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and after completion of the basic design of the 1,100-MW-class Atmea 1, it will be submitted to French nuclear safety authority ASN for verification that it conforms to French regulations.
RWE and E.ON joint venture Horizon plans to commission its first UK reactor at Wylfa, and could begin operation as early as 2020, a reactor design to be chosen before the end of 2010. Horizon intends to file a second application for new reactors at the Oldbury site, where construction of a new reactor could begin in 2019. Horizon’s existing plans call for multiple reactors at both the Wylfa and Oldbury sites with capacity of up to 3,300 megawatts at each location.
Silex Systems of Australia noted that the initial measurement program of the GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) Test Loop project being conducted at the GLE site in Wilmington, NC, was successfully completed. GLE was very pleased with the results of Test Loop measurements and with the great progress made in demonstrating the capability of the technology.
AREVA signed nuclear energy agreements with industrial and academic partners during the French-Italian bilateral summit. AREVA and Ansaldo is to cooperate in Italy on the ENEL-EDF project to build at least four EPRs, and covers cooperation in engineering, supply, building and commissioning tests.
Belarus has cleared the way for French builder Areva to take part in the country’s ambitious nuclear construction programme. Belarus has approved plans to build a 2,400-MW NPP at a cost of US$9 billion, and intends to bring in western expertise to help build the country’s first commercial NPP near Ostrovets, Grodno region, close to the Lithuanian border.
US Fuel Loaded into South Ukraine Nuclear Plant. Under the Ukraine Nuclear Fuel Qualification Program, the US supports testing necessary for Westinghouse to provide nuclear fuel for Soviet-designed VVER-1000 reactors operating in Ukraine. Forty-two Westinghouse-produced fuel test assemblies were recently loaded into the plant.
Urenco expects its new US uranium enrichment facility will begin commercial operation in May. The plant is being constructed near Eunice, New Mexico, by Urenco subsidiary Louisiana Energy Service, at full capacity to produce sufficient enriched uranium for nuclear fuel to provide approximately 10% of US electricity demand.
Global participants in the April 12-13 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington agreed to work both independently and collectively to strengthen nuclear security measures with a focus on boosting existing organisations and treaties rather than creating new ones. An official statement aimed to reaffirm the role of the IAEA and the UN in helping secure vulnerable nuclear material and strengthen international agreements on nuclear security.
AREVA and KEPCO agree to develop Imouraren mine
AREVA announced that it signed an agreement with Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) to develop the Imouraren mine and also initiated a plan to extend cooperation between the two companies. KEPCO has accepted an offer to take a 10% stake in the Imouraren SA mining company, which is jointly owned by AREVA and Niger’s Government. KEPCO is allowed an exclusive 10% stake in the mine’s life of production. The uranium from Imouraren may only be exclusively used to supply KEPCO’s reactors in Korea. The Imouraren project is located 80 kilometers south of Arlit, Niger. Mining at Imouraren is slated to begin in 2013, with an expected annual production capacity of 5,000 tonnes U (~13.0 million pounds U3O8).
2009 Uranium Long-Term Contracting Review
At the beginning of 2009, term contracting activity was expected to fall somewhat from the more moderate levels posted in 2008. However, the year ended at slightly increased levels spurred on by several factors, including the initial access to a US quota by Russia and the continued trend of investment into new mine development with off-take privileges. The term price, while somewhat more stable last year, reflected the continued strain of downward pressure that was being applied by both the falling spot market and increased availability of financially-based mid-term offers. The Ux Long-Term (LT) U3O8 Price began the year at $70 per pound after falling notably during the previous year, slipping $5 at the end of April to $65.00. During that time, the spot price witnessed increased downward pressure and fell to its lowest level of the year at $40, putting additional pressure on term offers.
DOE to Discontinue 2011-2013 U Transfers
The US Department of Energy (DoE) has cancelled plans to transfer any of its excess uranium inventory into the market during 2011, 2012, and 2013, Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed in testimony during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. However, transfers of excess DoE uranium scheduled for Fiscal Year 2010 will continue as planned to help fund the decommissioning and decontamination project at the Portsmouth enrichment facility in Ohio. Up to 300 tonnes U3O8 (661,000 pounds U3O8) per quarter in uranium transfers will be allowed this year, according to DoE.
Uranium One Kazakh reserves up 400%
Canadian uranium miner Uranium One said that its estimates of proven and probable reserves of uranium in Kazakhstan have increased 400% to 47.8 million lb U3O8, over the previous adjusted reserve base of its Akdala mine alone. Uranium One owns the Karatau mine in Kazakhstan on a 50-50 basis with Russia’s Atomredmetzoloto, or ARMZ. It said the new study shows a 12% increase in “indicated resources” to 32.6 million lb and a 373% increase in “inferred resources” to 9.5 million lb U3O8 at Karatau. Those figures are based on a 100% ownership, so only half of that is attributable to Uranium One.
February Market Outlook
So far this year the market has been under downward pressure. To date, it has fallen $2.50 from $44.50 to $42.00 in a month and a half. While the year may have seemed to start off slowly with “only” 3 million pounds of spot volume (36 million pounds on an annualized basis). Utilities are not the only buyers in the spot market, but intermediaries, funds, and producers too. On the supply side, of note is the record Kazakh production of last year. While it is not the case that all of the incremental Kazakh production makes its way into the spot market, it obviously goes somewhere, if even into inventory. To the extent that it finds its way to China or other countries, it removes potential spot demand from the market. Other producers also have some material to place.
Chinese nuclear projects
Jimmy Wang from China Nuclear Power Engineering Co. was speaking in a conference about numerous ongoing nuclear construction projects in China. With 11 reactors operating, the country has another 28 currently under construction. Although the latest official target from the Chinese government for installed nuclear capacity by 2020 is 70 GWe, Wang indicated that the number is likely to be revised upward and could even double as a result. After all, it is in China and not the US that the first Westinghouse AP1000 will come online. Regarding financing arrangements, Wang simply said that banks are “lining up to offer money” for reactor projects. He also noted that Chinese reactor projects are all economically sound and can recoup their investments, thus the funds are flowing even in the absence of explicit government guarantees.
Experts paint bleak picture of future uranium supply
World demand for uranium is projected to outstrip supply sometime within the next 15 years, and possibly as early as 2013, said Ux Consulting Vice President Jonathan Hinze at a conference. Additional uranium supplies would be required even under a low-case forecast for nuclear capacity. UxC projects global nuclear capacity could go from the current level of about 375 GW to some 870 GW by 2030 under its high-case scenario. Its base case would see nuclear capacity increase to about 700 GW and to just below 550 GW under its low case. Meanwhile, uranium supply has been steadily growing over the past four years and is expected to grow even faster through about 2016. But the demand would begin to exceed supply in 2013 under the high case, in 2018 under the base case, and in 2025 under the low case. Hinze attributed part of the run-up in uranium prices between 2004 and 2007, when the spot price rose from $15 to $136 per pound to investor stockpiling. The financial crisis has driven away many of those investors and the price has since corrected to about $42/lb. While much of the industry’s focus is on the spot price, he said only about 20% of the uranium traded moves through the spot market. The longterm price tends to be much less volatile: currently around $62/lb and is under slight downward pressure. Meanwhile, the supply is in flux: Kazakhstan increased its production 59% last year to 35 million pounds U3O8. That increase helped production exceed targets.
IAEA approves creation of fuel bank in Russia
On November 27 the Board of Governors of the IAEA adopted a Resolution that authorises Russia to host a 120 MT LEU fuel reserve, or fuel bank, for the IAEA. If IAEA Member States are unable to secure fuel for political reasons, and as long as other criteria – including non-proliferation criteria – are met, the IAEA could supply fuel to these States at market value. The Resolution specifically notes that the fuel bank “will be carried out as a back-up solution only and in such a way that any disturbance of or interference in the functioning of the existing fuel market is avoided….” The resolution also notes that “good operation of the market already provides assurances of supply….” The IAEA will continue discussions on an agreement with Russia to establish the LEU fuel reserve at Angarsk. The IAEA also approved a model agreement to be concluded with IAEA Member States for the supply of LEU by the IAEA from the reserve, which will allow the Director-General of the IAEA to conclude agreements with IAEA Member States without requiring the consent of the Board of Governors in each individual case.
Vattenfall to continue with plans for new reactors in Sweden and the Netherlands
Vattenfall will forge ahead with plans to build new reactors in Sweden and will consider building them in the Netherlands as well, according to a statement by Vattenfall’s future CEO, Oeystein Loeseth on November 16. “I am positive to nuclear power,” Loeseth said during a press conference in Stockholm. “Nuclear power is environmentally friendly.” Vattenfall will keep its German reactors. The operation of those reactors has come in for repeated criticism from the German government, the press and regulators, most recently in the run-up to the September general elections which brought a relatively pro-nuclear, centre-right government to power in Berlin.
CEZ contracts with AREVA to provide SWU to Temelin NPP over 15 years
In a press release issued on November 17, AREVA announced that it had signed a contract to provide SWU from the Georges Besse II centrifuge plant to the Temelin nuclear power plant run by the Czech utility, CEZ. Under the contract, AREVA will provide SWU to Units 1 and 2 at Temelin over a 15-year period.
Rosatom sets up TVEL-based fuel company
- The State Corporation Rosatom approved a decision to create a fuel company on the basis of TVEL, Russia’s sole fuel manufacturer. To that extent, OJSC United Company “Separation-Sublimation Complex” (United Company RSK), which was set up to bring together all conversion and enrichment enterprises, will be transferred to TVEL. As a result, TVEL will become an integrated company, thereby consolidating the conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication sectors of the Russian nuclear industry. Nearly a year ago, in December 2008, Atomenergoprom announced the creation of United Company RSK, as a fully owned subsidiary, following the transfer of all conversion and enrichment enterprises from Rosatom to Atomenergoprom in November 2008. By the end of 2009, all conversion and enrichment enterprises were to cease being direct subsidiaries of Atomenergoprom and instead become subsidiaries of United Company RSK. Additionally, TVEL will acquire ownership of the Engineering Center “Russian Gas Centrifuge” (RGC), which consists of seven enterprises connected to the research and development of gas centrifuges and their manufacture. Currently, RGC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of TENEX. TVEL will carry out audits of the enterprises in November and December. By the end of 2009, the company is also expected to develop a concept of the fuel company, which will be presented for approval by Rosatom and Atomenergoprom. Formation of the new fuel company is expected to be completed in 2010.
India and Canada complete negotiations for nuclear cooperation agreement
On November 28, India and Canada completed negotiations for a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. More time will still be needed for the legal text to be finalized and for the ratification process to be completed. The two nations are expected to sign the agreement by the time of the G20 summit in June 2010. “Increased collaboration with India’s civilian nuclear energy market will allow Canadian companies to benefit from greater access to one of the world’s largest and fastest expanding economies,” said prime minister Stephen Harper.
Kazatomprom signs fuel cycle cooperation agreements with three Japanese companies
In a press release issued on 30 November, Kazatomprom announced that it had signed several documents for nuclear fuel cycle cooperation with Japanese companies Kansai Electric Power Co., Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd. and Sumitomo Corp. The agreements include an agreement for services from Kazatomprom’s Ulba plant which was signed with all three companies, a basic agreement for conversion of UF6 into UO2 powder that Kazatomprom signed with Nuclear Fuel Industries, and a memorandum of cooperation with Kansai Electric and Sumitomo for the reconversion of UF6 from reprocessed uranium. Kazatomprom expects the projects to be implemented in 2010 to 2012, provided that Japan and Kazakhstan sign a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement in time.
Ignalina NPP to be shut down completely on December 31
- Lithuania’s Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant will be shut down at 23:00 on December 31, according to an order signed in late November by the NPP’s director Viktor Shevaldin. Between 20:00 and 22:00 the maximum capacity of the only operating second block of the power plant will be reduced from 1.32 GW to 700 MW between 22:00 to 23:00 hours - up to 250 MW by disabling one of the two existing generators. The reactor and the second generator unit are to be stopped at 23:00. When it joined the European Union, Lithuania pledged to close the Ignalina NPP by late 2009.
Kazatomprom increases uranium production by 61%
- During the first nine months of 2009 Kazatomprom saw its uranium output rise by 61% year-on-year to 9,535 tonnes, an increase which was 3% higher than expected. The company said in a statement on its website that it had forecast that total 2009 output would be 12,000 tonnes, but in August it raised this target to 14,000 tonnes, which was sufficient to make Kazakhstan the world’s leading producer of uranium for the first time.
Russia and Slovakia sign long-term nuclear power deal
- Russia and Slovakia have signed a deal on long-term cooperation in nuclear power engineering, according to Russia’s state nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, AtomStroyExport. The bilateral commission noted the successful development of Russian-Slovak cooperation in nuclear power engineering, ensuring the safe operation of Slovakia’s nuclear power plants. Slovakia expressed support for the participation of Russian companies in modernising Slovakia’s reactors. According to the statement “The Russian side confirmed its readiness to implement projects to extend the term of operation of the Bohunice plant, increase the capacity of existing reactors of Slovakian nuclear plants, complete the construction of reactors 3 and 4 of the Mohovce plant and build new reactors for nuclear plants in Slovakia”.
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