Nuclear Roundup – Uranium Production in Australia, South Korea Goal is 20% of Nuclear Plant Market


The Sanmen 1 nuclear plant reached a milestone where they completed the lift and setting of the containment vessel bottom head (CVBH) of Unit 1. The Sanmen AP1000 should be the first AP1000 reactor when it is completed about Oct 2013.

2. South Korea aims to export 80 nuclear power reactors – worth some $400 billion – by 2030, according to the country’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy. This would make South Korea the world’s third largest reactor supplier with a 20% share of the global market.

* a further 400 billion won ($356 million) is to be used to upgrade domestically-designed reactors so they can be more efficient and less costly

* South Korea’s self-sufficiency in uranium-based fuel currently stands at only 6.7% of demand, but this is to be raised to 25% in 2016 and 50% by 2030.

* Kim said that South Korea wants to sign deals to build 10 reactors by 2012.

* South Korea also plans to enter the $78 billion market for the operation, maintenance and repair of reactors. There is growing demand for overhauls and life extensions for heavy water reactors

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3. Energy Resources of Australia Ltd., the uranium producer controlled by Rio Tinto Group, said output in the fourth quarter declined 30 percent as it processed lower grades of ore.

The producer of about a 10th of the world’s mined uranium said it expects the lower grades of ore to continue in the first half of 2010 before improving later in the year.

Production of uranium oxide in the fourth quarter fell to 1,140 metric tons, or 2.5 million pounds, from 1,634 tons a year earlier, the Darwin-based company said in a statement today. Output declined 2 percent in 2009 to 5,240 tons.

Glyn Lawcock, head of resources research at UBS AG in Sydney, said he had expected the company’s production to reach about 5,400 tons in 2010. Output may now fall 5 percent short of this estimate because of lower ore grades, he said.

Access to higher and lower grades fluctuates during mining, Thibeault said.

“It’s a question of timing,” he said. “We still have the same grades in our reserves, but the access is different.”

The company is building a plant to extract uranium oxide from stored low-grade ore. In addition, construction of an underground project at an area known as Ranger 3 Deeps may now begin in 2011 after studies that are due to be completed in the middle of 2010, Thibeault said.