Guangdong Nuclear Power Plans for More Uranium

The Wall Street Journal reports that China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holdings Co., one of the country’s two nuclear-energy firms, said it will need more than 100,000 metric tons of uranium between 2009 and 2020 to feed its growing fleet of nuclear-power plants, a huge jump from current demand levels that underscores the scope of China’s nuclear-energy ambitions.

Guangdong Nuclear Power’s uranium needs will jump to 10,000 tons a year in 2020 from 2,000 tons this year. Guangdong Nuclear Power is expected to have 34 gigawatts of nuclear-power capacity in operation by 2020, accounting for more than 50% of China’s total capacity, up from 3.94 gigawatts currently operational.

Guangdong Nuclear Power plans to build plants overseas and is targeting Southeast Asia, Mr. Zhou said. Several nations there, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are considering building nuclear reactors. The company is also looking to invest in overseas uranium companies as well as ramping up domestic production to meet uranium needs, he said.

Guangdong Nuclear Power is cooperating with foreign companies such as French government-controlled nuclear group Areva, as well as uranium miners Cameco Corp. and Paladin Energy Ltd., on long-term uranium supplies, he said.

“We are willing to take a controlling or minority stake in uranium companies, cooperating in uranium exploration, production or processing,” Mr. Zhou said.

Last November, China’s Ministry of Commerce gave Guangdong Nuclear Power permission to import uranium for civil use. The only other importer is CNNC.

With an eye on future uranium needs, Guangdong Nuclear in early September 2009 offered 83.6 million Australian dollars (US$76.9 million) for control of Australian uranium-exploration company Energy Metals Ltd.