France plans new uranium plant to reduce West’s dependence on Russia | Techno Glob


(Bloomberg) – French state-controlled uranium producer Orano SA plans to increase its capacity to enrich radioactive ore into nuclear fuel by almost 50% as Western governments and utilities seek to reduce their dependence on Russia since its attack on Ukraine.

The war “rekindles the urgency” to increase Western uranium enrichment capacity to avoid possible shortages, Orano said, according to a statement from France’s public debate commission. The cost of expanding capacity from 7.5 million to 11 million so-called separation work units at its plant in central France is estimated at 1.3 billion euros ($1.3 billion) .

“We are working on different scenarios, including the extension of our Georges Besse II plant, which would be the fastest option, but also on the construction of this additional capacity in the United States,” said by telephone Christophe Neugnot, manager. communications at Orano. . “We will need customer commitments for our board of directors to make a final decision in 2023, which would allow the first part of the extension to go into service around 2028.”

The United States and European countries have refrained from sanctioning Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, the world’s largest uranium enricher, over fears that the power supply to hundreds of millions of people around the world could be disrupted. Yet they are increasingly cutting ties with the Kremlin, which has cut natural gas shipments to Europe, the latest blow being damage to already dormant Nord Stream pipelines in what some governments suspect sabotage.

Earlier this year, Swedish utility Vattenfall AB extended agreements to buy nuclear fuel from suppliers in France and the United States after halting imports from Russia. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is pushing for the development of greater national uranium enrichment capacity.

The United States has only one commercial enrichment facility, in New Mexico, which is owned by Urenco Ltd., a British, German and Dutch consortium. The company said in its semi-annual presentation that it is evaluating where it can add a new plant to increase production.

Russia’s Rosatom is the world’s largest uranium enricher, with a 36% market share, according to its website.

©2022 Bloomberg LP



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