Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon and Ssang-Soo Kim, CEO of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), have signed an agreement for the Korean group to join the Imouraren mine in Niger.
Under the terms of the agreement, KEPCO will take an indirect 10% stake in the Imouraren SA mining company, jointly owned by Areva and the Nigerien state. In return, KEPCO is entitled to 10% of the mine’s lifelong production to exclusively supply its reactors in Korea. KEPCO’s involvement in this industrial project provides major support to the partners already developing the Imouraren mine.
The Imouraren uranium deposit, 80km south of Arlit in northern Niger, is today considered one of the biggest in the world. Mining is scheduled to begin in 2013, with an annual production capacity of 5000 tons of uranium. Imouraren SA will be in charge of exploiting the mine, over what is expected to be more than thirty years.
The agreement is a continuation of that reached by Areva and KEPCO for the Georges Besse II enrichment plant, and confirms their desire to work together at the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Areva and KEPCO also discussed the possibility of extending their cooperation to cover uranium conversion and enrichment activities, as well as used fuel recycling.
|Interview with AECL CEO Hugh MacDiarmid|
"We see ourselves in licencing pole position" - Hugh MacDiarmid, AECL CEO, speaks to NEI about the Cernavoda contract, the ACR-1000 licencing, and thorium's potential for AECL
Q. Could you take me through the Cernavoda deal? what exactly would you be supplying?
A. We are looking at the separate commercial aspects of the project, working closely with EnergoNuclear to do an evaluation of the existing infrastructure, and safety and regulatory compliance, and ensuring the specification of Cernavoda 3&4 meet them. We need to bring the units up to the highest and most modern levels of regulatory compliance.
We will have 30-40 people working on the project. We have a well-defined 12 months of work. At the conclusion of that work, EnergoNuclear will be in a position to hopefully move forward and proceed with the actual commitment to the project.
Q. So the decision to restart construction has not been taken?
Q. So you are handling the commercial elements of the project as well as the technical aspects?
Q. How many packages might there be?
A. We are breaking the project down. It is pretty premature now, but ultimately it will be a number of contractors, particularly on equipment supply.
Q. First news of the consortium was issued in 2008; why has it taken 2 years for a technical consultant to become involved?
A. There was a restructuring of the consortium. In my view, given the timing, the restructuring of the consortium has been gotten forward relatively quickly.
Q. Our handbook says that AECL provided the CANDU 6s at 1&2, but 3&4 were to be supplied by FECNE. What is that?
A. There will be different partners involved in the actual construction and delivery of the plant. Cernavoda 3&4 are based on the CANDU 6 design. We expect to play a significant role in the NSSS, and in design and componentry. We expect other partners for project delivery in construction, over the entire project, and in the balance of plant, which is where traditionally we have worked with partners.
Q. So the site does not have any equipment?
Q. Have you seen it?
Q. There must be big questions about whether these structures could still be used?
Q. Were you involved in the 2 restart?
Q. Would you be looking to do that again?
Q. Is there any news about the ACR-1000 negotiation with Ontario Power Generation? I see that the AP1000 has passed the Canadian regulator's pre-application review process.
A. We certainly noticed that the AP-1000 passed the CNNC review. As I am sure you know, we have completed phase 2, the 'no fundamental barrier' lever, and are now well into phase 3. We see ourselves in licencing pole position in Canada. Relative to the Ontario government, it did ask vendors for bids past its original submission deadline, and we are now coming to the end of that extension period, and the Ontario government has not signalled its intentions. We are ready to engage to enter negotiations. We started from the premise that they did identify that we submitted the best bid, the only one that was compliant with requirements; we are waiting to see what transpires.
Q. What effect, if any, do you think President Obama's pro-nuclear state of the union speech might have on Canadian utilities?
A. The US is of course our immediate neighbour. Their energy policies are rather different from our own. The president signalled a new era of nuclear in that country. I expect that the Canadian supply chain will be anxious to participate in that. We at AECL still have no plans to pursue the licencing of a reactor there.
Q. Are there any more plans to build more CANDUs in China? Is China planning to build its own CANDU reactors?
A. Thorium is in fact the platform upon which CANDU new-builds in china may be available. They recognised that CANDU was the right technology for it, but things move slowly. We still think there is an opportunity for a reactor in china.
Q. What news is there on the AECL sale/restructuring?