Areva is planning to double its production rates of uranium, and has signed a partnership with minerals engineering firm Technip.
A new joint venture company called TSU Project has been created by Technip, Areva and SGN (an Areva subsidiary specialized in the nuclear fuel cycle). TSU will execute the projects required to double Areva's annual uranium production in five years. A figure of €3 billion ($4.6 billion) was mentioned by the firms, and connected to ten new mining operations. Most of this investment and development is to occur in Africa. Areva said the initiative should "quicken the Imouraren and Trekkopie projects" in Niger and Namibia respectively.
In 2007, Areva current produced 6000 tonnes of uranium per year. Doubling that would take it well beyond the current production rates of its main rivals, Cameco, KazAtomProm and Rio Tinto, although all those firms have similarly significant expansion plans.
Rio Tinto produced 7171 tonnes of uranium in 2007 and aims to double that by 2015; KazAtomProm is aiming for 15,000 tonnes of uranium per year in 2015; Cameco's produces 8250 tonnes of uranium per year, and plans to increase capacity - notably through the Cigar Lake mine which could produce 7000 tonnes per year alone.
Technip, headquartered in Paris like Areva, employs 23,000 people worldwide and operates in the fields of oil, gas and petrochemical engineering. Areva said that it would benefit from Technip's expertise in managing major industrial projects.