Canada's day for deals

30 November 2007

Canada's silence on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) ended yesterday with the announcement that it would join the scheme. A range of deals with the Russian nuclear industry were also announced.

Canada had previously been noted as an observer of GNEP ministerial meetings. The decision to join as a full member was announced by Gary Lunn, minister of natural resources, who said, "As the world's largest producer of uranium and a country taking steps to tackle climate change through the development of clean energy technology, Canada's responsibility is to help shape the safe and secure development of nuclear energy worldwide."

GNEP envisages a band of nuclear supplier countries providing standardised reactors to client states along with assured supplies of nuclear fuel. After use, the highly-radioactive used fuel would be returned to a supplier state for reprocessing, recycling of recovered materials, the destruction of some wastes in advanced power reactors and final disposal.

Membership already includes Australia, Bulgaria, China, France, Ghana, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the USA. Canada can join their ranks once it signs the GNEP Statement of Principles, which would likely happen in the USA within weeks.

Lunn's announcements came at the same time as a high-level meeting with officials from Russia's nuclear industry. Russian prime minister Viktor Zubkov led a delegation including Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), and Vadim Zhivov, director general of AtomRedMetZoloto (ARMZ).

Kiriyenko signed a memorandum of understanding with Canada's state-owned AECL 'for cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear technologies.'
 Lunn said that his ministry would be conducting a full review of the structure of AECL. "It's time to consider whether the existing structure of AECL is appropriate in a changing marketplace," he said.

Zhivov concluded a deal with Gerry Grandey of Canada's uranium producer, Cameco, to surpass previous deals Cameco made with Tenex. As part of the restructuring and centralization of Russia's industry, ARMZ has been given control of all Russia's uranium mining assets previously controlled by Tenex. Stock in both ARMZ and Tenex is now owned by a new giant, AtomEnergoProm.

ARMZ and Cameco are to create joint venture companies to prospect and mine uranium in both countries. They have already identified deposits in northwestern Russia and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Nunavut.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Energy in Italy information paper

WNN: Italy joins GNEP
WNN: Russian corporate fusion continues
WNN: Membership of GNEP has tripled

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