South Korea APR1400 Nuclear Reactor Construction and Indian Uranium

1. The reactor pressure vessel for unit 4 of South Korea’s Shin-Kori nuclear power plant has been put in place. The unit is the second APR-1400 to be built and its schedule follows the first, Shin-Kori 3, by one year.

First concrete for Shin-Kori 4 was poured in August 2009 and the APR-1400 unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation in September 2014. Its schedule is running about one year behind that of Shin-Kori 3, the first APR-1400 to be built. Two more of the 1350 MWe pressurized water reactors are planned for construction at Shin-Ulchin and scheduled to start up in 2016 and 2017. Four have been ordered by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation for the Braka plant in the United Arab Emirates to start between 2017 and 2020. The construction and power generation costs of the APR-1400 are reported to be 10% lower than those of OPR-1000 units.

2. The first AP1000 nuclear reactor vessel successfully arrived at the Sanmen nuclear power plant in China’s Zhejiang province at the end of July 2011.

Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction manufactured the reactor vessel, which weighs approximately 340 tons and measures 4.5 meters in diameter by 12.2 meters in length. The reactor vessel successfully arrived at Sanmen after a long journey from Doosan’s in-house port at its Changwon Plant in the Republic of Korea. The vessel, when installed in the Sanmen Unit 1 AP1000 plant, will undergo installation and operational testing before starting commercial operation in late 2013. The first AP1000 unit at Sanmen will become operational in late 2013. The remaining three units are expected to come online in 2014 and 2015.

3. India is expediting exploration efforts to more than double the reserves of uranium at a site in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh where it made its largest-ever discovery of the metal used as a nuclear fuel.

Of the total reserves, about 49,000 tons were discovered in the past four years in the area that had established reserves of 15,000 tons, the officials said.

“Our plan is to take [the reserves] to 150,000 tons by the end of the 12th five-year plan,” said one of the officials. “We will do it and we have the confidence.” India’s 12th five-year economic plan starts April 1, 2012.

The Tummalapalle reserves will boost India’s energy security by reducing dependence of the world’s second-fastest-growing major economy on imports.

India’s nuclear power plants have operated much below capacity as local uranium reserves were low. The country also couldn’t import nuclear fuel for several years due to nuclear isolation as it’s not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

A pact with the U.S. in 2008 and a subsequent waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group brought civilian reactors under safeguards for fuel imports.

Though the Tummalapalle, deposits are of a slightly lower grade, they are vast and extensive, the official said, adding that uranium content in the ore is about 500 parts per million, or 0.05%.

Only a 15 kilometer stretch in the Tummalapalle region has been explored so far and uranium deposits are estimated to be present in the larger Cuddapah basin, P.S. Parihar, additional director for operations at the directorate.

4. Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA.AU) approved Thursday the exploration of an untapped deposit that could extend the life of one of the world’s biggest uranium mines.

Ranger, however, is close to running out of ore and ERA, majority owned by Rio Tinto Ltd. (RIO), has been mulling expansion options, partly because development of the nearby Jabiluka deposit hasn’t received the blessing of the land’s traditional owners.

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has published half-year losses thanks to an extended suspension of production at the Ranger uranium mine. It has also cancelled a heap-leach project and slashed uranium reserves in a reclassification decision.

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