Ukraine set to take stake in IUEC

14 December 2009

Ukraine's ministry of fuel and energy has said that the country plans to become an equity partner in the International Uranium Enrichment Centre (IUEC) in 2010. The government has also decided that the Novokonstantinovskoye uranium project will not be privatized.


In a draft work plan for next year, the ministry said that the involvement in the IUEC of the ministry's department of nuclear energy and industry, as well as that of the state nuclear fuel concern, will be approved by key executors of the plan. The state nuclear fuel concern will also get approval to buy shares in the IUEC.


The IUEC is a joint initiative of Russia and Kazakhstan to provide assured supplies of low-enriched uranium for power reactors to new nuclear power states and those with small nuclear programs, giving them equity in the project, but without allowing them access to the enrichment technology. The project - to be sited at the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine in Siberia - has so far gained the participation of Armenia and Ukraine. Russia will maintain majority ownership, and in February 2007 the IUEC was entered into the list of Russian nuclear facilities eligible for implementation of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The USA has expressed support for the IUEC, which will sell both enrichment services and enriched uranium product.


Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko has reportedly signed a law putting the Novokonstantinovskoye uranium deposit on to a list of state companies that will not be privatized. According to a report in the Kyiv Post, the deposit has been added on to a list of state-run companies not to be privatized that was adopted by the country's parliament on 21 October.


The Novokonstantinovskoye uranium project is being developed by the Novokonstantinov uranium development company, independently of Ukraine's main uranium-producing company, Vostochny Uranium Ore Mining and Processing Enterprise (VostGOK). The project will produce up to 1500 tonnes per year by 2013 and eventually up to 2500 tonnes annually.


Ceremonial first production was in August 2008, with 500 tonnes per year capacity targeted by end of 2009.  Russia's Rosatom has said it was keen to invest in developing the project, but agreement on equity was not reached. The Ukrainian government was seeking partners to help fund the $820 million development cost.


Australia's Uran Ltd previously offered to develop the Novokonstantinovskoye deposit and take a 50% interest, but the government vetoed this.