Energoatom and Cameco this week signed a memorandum of cooperation and understanding as part of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator's strategy to diversify its nuclear fuel supply.
Energoatom, which said the agreement considers cooperation in the supply and production of uranium products and nuclear fuel using Cameco's technologies, purchased more than half of its fuel in the first half of this year from the USA's Westinghouse. Its traditional nuclear fuel supplier is Russia's TVEL, according to World Nuclear News.
Energoatom said that such diversification means it is fully complying with the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency to have at least two suppliers of nuclear fuel.
In addition, in August 2016, Energoatom and the British-German-Dutch company Urenco entered into an agreement on the supply of enriched uranium.
On July 10 this year, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers approved the reorganization of SE Eastern Mining and Processing Enterprise – Zhovti Vody, in Dnipropetrovsk region – by merging it with Energoatom. This approval envisages Energoatom's creation of an integrated infrastructure that will include facilities for the extraction and processing of uranium raw materials and the production of nuclear power. Energoatom will also receive a base for zirconium production, meaning it will be able to produce zirconium components for nuclear fuel independently.
One of the three largest uranium producers in the world, Cameco owns uranium mines and conversion plants in Canada and the USA, as well as a 60% stake in the Inkai joint venture with Kazatomprom of Kazakhstan. It also has exploration projects in Australia and Mongolia.
In its statement, Energoatom notes that, according to 2018 data, Cameco accounts for about 18% of world uranium production and 9% of world uranium supplies. Its total production capacity for uranium mining in Canada and Kazakhstan is about 24 mtU annually. The uranium reserves of Cameco's uranium deposits total about 211.5 mtU. Its production of uranium concentrate last year amounted to about 4.2 mtU.
Energoatom operates all of Ukraine's four nuclear power plants – Zaporozhia, Rivne, Yuzhnoukrainsk and Khmelnitsky – which comprise 15 nuclear reactors, including 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835 MWe.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukraine is able to independently meet its demand for nuclear fuel, without supplies from the Russian Federation, since over the past three years the country has made significant progress in implementing nuclear energy projects, said Energy Minister Ihor Nasalyk.
Minister Nasalyk stated that a nuclear fuel production plant could be built in Ukraine in three years.
According to the State Statistics Service, in January-June 2019, Ukraine imported fuel assemblies, that is, fuel for nuclear power plants, totaling $100.991 million. Half of the supplies came from Sweden and another half – from Russia.
As part of the diversification of nuclear fuel supply sources for nuclear plants and the reduction of dependence on a single source – the Russian company TVEL – the state-owned Energoatom in April 2014 entered into an agreement with the American Westinghouse, which produces fuel at its plant in Sweden.