France's Areva and KazAtomProm of Kazakhstan have signed an agreement for the construction of a nuclear fuel plant. Areva is also strengthening its collaboration with China National Nuclear Corporation.
The latest agreement with KazAtomProm was signed in Astana on 4 November in the presence of Eric Besson, France's minister of industry and energy, and Aset Issikechev, Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan.
In a statement, Besson said, "This agreement commits to the creation in Kazakhstan, the world's largest producer of uranium, of a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant dedicated to the Asian market." Construction of the plant "will begin upon completion of the feasibility study at the end of the first quarter of 2012."
An agreement to create a fuel fabrication joint venture was signed between Areva and KazAtomProm in October 2010. KazAtomProm owns 51% of the new company, while Areva owns the remaining 49%. At the time of its creation, the partners said that the new company would build a 400 tonne per year manufacturing line for nuclear fuel assemblies at KazAtomProm's Ulba plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, eastern Kazakhstan, based on Areva's design. The new line is scheduled to begin operations in 2014.
Production from the new line will be commercialised by Ifastar, another joint venture (51% Areva, 49% KazAtomProm) created by the two companies in 2009 to fabricate fuel from Kazakh uranium and market it as an integrated package to customers in Asia. The formation of Ifastar followed a 2008 strategic agreement covering an expansion of the Katco uranium mining joint venture as well as the installation of new fabrication capacity at Ulba.
The formation of the Ifastar joint venture followed the signing in June 2008 of a strategic agreement between Areva and KazAtomProm in the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Areva and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen collaboration in the fields of nuclear safety and operational excellence.
Under the MoU - signed by Areva president and CEO Luc Oursel and CNNC vice president Yu Peigen - the two companies will work on "improving operating performance and on optimizing the maintenance of existing reactors."
Areva said that a working group would be set up to "explore the scope and modalities" of this collaboration, "which will encompass lessons learned from the Fukushima Accident as well as measures for optimizing CNNC's power plants."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News