Joint venture fuel assembly plant opens in Kazakhstan

10 November 2021

The official opening of a new fuel assembly plant at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, was marked today at a ceremony attended by high-level representatives from Samruk-Kazyna JSC, NAC Kazatomprom JSC, UMP JSC, China Atomic Energy Authority, China General Nuclear Power Corporation, Framatome, and the East Kazakhstan regional administration. The plant is a Kazakh-Chinese joint venture and will supply fuel to China General Nuclear subsidiary CGNPC-URC.

Inside the Ulba-FA plant (Image: Kazatomprom)

The joint venture partners in the Ulba Fuel Assembly Plant - or Ulba-FA LLP - are Kazatomprom subsidiary UMP JSC, with 51%, and CGNPC-URC, with 49%.

The plant uses Framatome fuel assembly manufacturing technology and equipment manufactured in China, France and the USA, and will make use of the fuel pellet manufacturing capabilities of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant. It is certified by Framatome as being authorised and capable of manufacturing AFA 3G assemblies with a capacity of 200 tonnes of uranium per year. The plant has also obtained the status of being a certified supplier for the Chinese nuclear industry.

Kazatomprom CEO Mazhit Sharipov described the project as a "great example of successful multilateral cooperation of global nuclear benchmark companies" and would open up new opportunities for further international cooperation. "Establishment of this innovative production will allow Kazakhstan to enter the small circle of states manufacturing and supplying nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants," he said.

The development of the nuclear industry is a strategic direction for the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund, its CEO Almassadam Satkaliyev said. "Our country is interested in the production and sales of uranium products of processing value, as well as higher value-added products. Successful implementation of the Kazatomprom project with foreign partners ensured entry into the limited circle of states that supply nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants," he said.

CGNPC and Kazatomprom have been working together in the areas of uranium mining, natural uranium sales, and fuel pellet fabrication since 2006. The Chinese company earlier this year acquired a 49% stake in Ortalyk LLP, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Kazakh uranium producer.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News