Areva, Mitsubishi form fuel fabrication joint venture

18 February 2009

Areva of France and Japan's Mitsubishi have signed agreements to establish a joint venture company in the nuclear fuel fabrication business.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Mitsubishi Materials Corp (MMC), Mitsubishi Corp (MC) and Areva signed the shareholders agreement yesterday to form the joint venture company. The partners aim to establish the new company by 1 April and are preparing to build a new factory in the USA.
In a statement, the partners said the new company will be a "full-fledged nuclear fuel fabrication service supplier, integrating development, design, manufacturing and sales." It will supply Japanese customers with uranium fuel assemblies for pressurized water reactors (PWRs), boiling water reactors (BWRs) and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs), as well as uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel assemblies.
The new company will also provide related services, including uranium reconversion. It is also set to enter overseas markets as an independent supplier of MHI-designed fuel assemblies for PWRs.
The new company will be established by restructuring the existing Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel (MNF) company in Tokai-mura, which is currently 66% owned by Mitsubishi Materials Corp (MMC) and 34% by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). The new joint venture will be 35% owned by MHI, 30% by MMC, 30% by Areva and 5% by MC.
The creation of the joint venture builds on a memorandum of understanding signed by Areva and Mitsubishi in April 2008 to expand cooperation into the nuclear fuel business. An agreement to form the fuel fabrication joint venture was signed in December 2008.
Areva and MHI also confirmed that they are "doing necessary preparation" to jointly invest in a dedicated nuclear fuel fabrication facility to be constructed in the USA.
In 2007, the two companies set up Atmea, a 50-50 joint venture, to develop, market, license and sell a 1100 MWe PWR combining both companies' technologies.