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Conversion

Four major commercial primary conversion companies, operating in Canada, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, meet the majority of the global demand for UF6 conversion services.

In 2013, world nameplate conversion capacity was estimated at around 76 000 tU, which was well above the global demand for conversion services, estimated to be around 62 000 tU. Part of the supply, around 20 000 tU, continued to be provided by the secondary conversion sources (almost all secondary uranium sources which displace demand for primary UF6 conversion services).

Commercial UF6 conversion facilities (tonnes of uranium/year)

Company Nameplate Capacity
in 2013
(tU as UF6)
Share of global capacity (%)
Atomenergoprom (Rosatom) (RUS) 25 000 33
Cameco (CAN, UK) 18 500 24
ConverDyn (USA) 15 000 20
Comurhex (AREVA) (France) 14 000 18
CNNC (China) 3 650 5
Ipen (Brazil) 40 0
Total nameplate capacity 76 190 100

Source: WNA, The Global Nuclear Fuel Market — Supply and Demand 2013–2030

According to market analysts, the market has an adequate supply base up to 2030, with slightly higher concerns over the period beyond 2026 and demand for conversion continuing to grow up to 83 000 tU by 2020. Hence, conversion remains a critical step in the nuclear fuel cycle. There appears to be broad acknowledgment that, in the long run, investment in new conversion capacity is needed, either through expansions at existing facilities, e.g. in the USA (Metropolis), Canada, Russia and China, or through new build, e.g. in Kazakhstan or France (Comurhex II).

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