Urenco's results 'good, despite challenging market'

06 March 2015

The Urenco group posted a net income of €404.5 million ($439.3 million) for 2014, 20.2% up on the previous year. The company plans to slow the rate of installation of new capacity at its US plant from 2016, while the start date for a UK facility for deconversion has been pushed back to 2017.

Urenco group CEO Helmut Engelbrecht described the year's performance as a good set of results despite challenging market conditions. He said that uncertainty over Japanese reactor restarts was leading to increases in worldwide inventories of nuclear fuel, in turn putting pressure on pricing. "We will remain flexible in our response to changing market conditions and continue to support our customers in order to retain our position as supplier of choice," he said.

Urenco achieved an annual enrichment capacity level of 18 million SWU in 2014, thanks to new capacity coming on line at the company's US plant. The year saw the ahead-of-schedule completion of the second phase of expansion at the Urenco USA centrifuge enrichment plant. The third phase of the expansion program is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2015, at which point site capacity will reach 4.7 million SWU per year.

From 2016, new capacity will be installed at a slower rate than originally planned, reflecting current market conditions. Urenco says it does not anticipate reaching the total anticipated capacity of 5.7 million SWU until "into the next decade".

2017 start-up for UK facility

Meanwhile, the company has pushed back the expected start date of the Capenhurst Tails Management Facility (TMF) deconversion plant, currently under construction in the UK, to 2017.

The TMF will treat depleted uranium tails, a by-product of the enrichment process, by converting them from uranium hexafluoride into more chemically stable uranium oxide (U3O8). Urenco's board approved the construction of the facility in 2009, and by March 2014 was anticipating operations to begin by the end of 2015.

When complete, the facility will process Urenco’s European inventory of depleted uranium. However the company says that the project, which it describes as "a major commitment" and one of its single largest investments in the UK, has incurred cost overruns and delays.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News