Current Issues: New Uranium Conversion/Enrichment and Nuclear Fuel Plant Projects
(last updated 25 Jan 2023)
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Argentina, Brazil to build joint uranium enrichment plant
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Supreme Court of Argentina accepts Toba Community of Nam Qom's appeal for the right to consultation and participation on Dioxitek S.A. UO2 plant project for decision
The Toba Community of Nam Qom promoted in 2014 an amparo [appeal for protection of constitutional rights] action for the installation of a uranium dioxide production plant of the state-owned company Dioxitek SA. The judicial process took a long time to determine the court that should resolve the amparo. On August 2, 2022, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation resolved "to declare that the present case corresponds to the original jurisdiction of this Court". In the recitals, the Supreme Court noted "the existence of exceptional circumstances of such magnitude as to require the hearing of the case".
The amparo was filed against the National State, the Province of Formosa and Dioxitek, in order to enforce the right of the Toba de Nam Qom Community to consultation and participation contemplated in article 75, paragraph 17, of the National Constitution; and 6, 7 and 15 of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. As well as to defend, in a subsequent instance, their right to a healthy environment.
(Movimiento Antinuclear de la República Argentina Aug. 9, 2022)
> Download: Court decision FRE 6231/2014/CS2 Aug. 2, 2022 (PDF - in Spanish)
Government approves budget to complete construction of Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant in Formosa
The national Ministry of Economy approved the 2021 budget and action plan for Dioxitek, the company that makes uranium dioxide at its plant in the Alta Córdoba neighborhood.
The most outstanding point is that 1,240 million pesos [US$ 14.2 million] appear destined to finish the new factory that is being built in the province of Formosa.
The completion of this new uranium dioxide factory, the material with which the fuel for the three nuclear power plants in Argentina is made, is essential for the closure of the Alta Córdoba plant.
(La Voz Jan. 21, 2021)
Plans for construction of Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant in Formosa being reactivated
The Secretary of Science and Technology, engineer Julio Araoz, informed that the necessary steps are being taken to reactivate the Uranium Processing Plant (NPU) project presented by the Dioxitek SA Company within the framework of Law 1060 of the province of Formosa; and that it would have to be operational in less than three years.
(El Comercial Jan. 19, 2020)
Manifestation and road blockade against construction of Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant in Formosa
A manifestation and a blockade of National Route 11 were held against the construction of the Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant in Formosa on Feb. 7, 2017.
(El Comercial Feb. 8, 2017)
Opening of tenders imminent for construction of Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant in Formosa
Undersecretary for Economic Development of Formosa, Julio Araoz, estimated that during this month "will be complying with the act of opening of tenders for the construction of the new uranium dioxide processing plant", to be located within 15 kilometers of the northern capital.
(Télam Jan. 3, 2015)
Paraguay parliament urges Chancellor to reject Argentina's plan to build Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant near border
On Nov. 20, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a bill requesting from the Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga a "formal denial" of the installation of the uranium processing plant that the Argentine government intends to build in the neighboring province of Formosa and requests resort to international organizations.
(ABC Color Nov. 21, 2014)
Protest in Paraguay against Argentina's plan to build Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant near border
On Nov. 18, 2014, citizens of Pilar (Ñeembucú, Paraguay) again expressed their disapproval of the construction of the Dioxitek SA uranium dioxide factory and the Carem nuclear reactor in Argentina's neighboring province of Formosa.
(ABC Color Nov. 19, 2014)
Environmental license clears way for construction of Dioxitek S.A. UO2 plant in Formosa
The Ministry of Industry and Environment Formosa granted the environmental license for the installation of a new uranium dioxide processing plant 16 km from the capital city, reported Undersecretary Hugo Eduardo Bay.
He clarified that "what was approved was regarding the construction of the plant, since before starting their operations they must comply with other requirements arising from the EIA and the standards required by the regulatory partnership of nuclear activity".
(Noticias Formosa Nov. 6, 2014)
Catholic Church opposes Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant project in Formosa
During a hearing on the Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant project in Formosa, the Diocese of Formosa read a document opposing the project and concluding with the words: DIOXITEK: NO THANK YOU.
(Noticias Formosa July 15/16, 2014)
> Download: Dioxitek Environmental Impact Assessment (Polo Científico, Tecnológico y de Innovación (PCT&I), Formosa - in Spanish)
State government threatens radio stations that do not transmit advertising spots in favour of Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant
An official of the Secretary for Communication of the Government of Formosa sent in the last hours to the radio stations that have pattern with the State a clear and direct warning, coming close to threat, which stated that those who "did not comply" with the order to air every 15 minutes the official spots to support the installation of Dioxitek will lose government advertising spots on their stations.
(El Comercial July 14, 2014)
Thousands protest in Paraguay against Argentina's plan to build Dioxitek nuclear fuel plant near border
Thousands of people walked the streets of the city of Pilar (Paraguay) last night (Apr. 2). They were carrying torches and banners opposing the processing of uranium at the Dioxitek SA nuclear fuel plant planned in Argentina's neighbouring province of Formosa.
(ABC Color Apr. 3, 2014)
Protests in Paraguay against Argentina's plan to build Dioxitek UO2 plant near border
About 400 people demonstrated today (Mar. 14) in the Paraguayan city of Pilar (southwest) against the planned construction of a nuclear plant in Argentina's province of Formosa near the border with Paraguay, the local police told Efe.
The protesters, many of whom hoisted Paraguayan flags, gathered for about two hours in the central Plaza de Armas in the border city of Pilar, according to police, who estimated their number at 400.
This is the first time that residents take to the streets to oppose the project.
The concern among the Paraguayan authorities and public opinion emerged in mid-February following statements by the Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido, who said that the uranium processing company Dioxitec be installed in Formosa, as reported by the Paraguayan Senate.
(Terra Mar. 14, 2014)
CNEA now considers relocation of Dioxitek UO2 plant from Córdoba to Formosa
Following a meeting between the Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido and the mayor of Córdoba, Ramón Mestre, municipal sources said Dioxitek could settle in the province of Formosa. This is the uranium dioxide plant located in Alta Córdoba neighborhood.
The plant was shut down by the city last year, due to clearance problems. Then, the commitment of the Nation to move the plant by September this year was achieved.
However, less than three months after the deadline, the target of the factory is still uncertain.
So far, the strongest possibilities were Río Tercero and Embalse, but in both cases appeared neighborhood complaints and judicial measures, complicating the outlook for the relocation of Dioxitek.
(La Voz June 26, 2013)
> See also: Dioxitek S.A. UO2 plant, Córdoba
Brazil to construct two uranium conversion plants
Brazil will invest Real 3,000 million (about US$ 1,807 million) in the construction of two uranium conversion plants, according to Edisao Lobao, Minister of Mines and Energy.
The new plants will allow Brazil to cover the whole nuclear fuel production process in domestic facilities. So far, the uranium mined in Brazil is sent to Canada and France for conversion.
(EFE Feb. 4, 2011)
Argentina, Brazil to build joint uranium enrichment plant
On Feb. 22, 2008, the presidents of Argentina and Brazil agreed to create a commission on pursuing joint uranium enrichment for peaceful nuclear energy purposes. (AP Feb. 22, 2008)
Commissioning of Iperó conversion plant to start:
Commissioning of the Usina de Gás de Urânio (Usexa) uranium conversion plant in Iperó is to start within the next weeks. Full production will begin in 2012. The capacity of the plant, run by the navy, is 40 tonnes of uranium [hexafluoride?] per year.
(El Diario July 10, 2011)
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Resende enrichment plant granted operating license
On Jan. 5, 2009, the National Commission of Nuclear Energy (CNEN) granted to the Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB) the Initial Operating Authorization (AOI) for its uranium enrichment plant located in its unit in Resende (Rio De Janeiro).
(INB Jan. 8, 2009)
First unit of Resende enrichment plant inaugurated
On May 5, 2006, Minister of Science and Technology, Sérgio Rezende, inaugurated the first unit of the Resende enrichment plant run by Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB). The completion of the plant is scheduled for 2010, at total investment costs of R$ 550 million (US$ 267 million). Once in full operation, the plant could provide 60% of the fuel for the Angra reactors.
The plant uses national technology developed by the Brazilian Navy. The Brazilian ultracentrifugal machines are almost four times more economic than those used in the United States and in Europe.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanded total visualization of the equipment, in order to guarantee that it would not be used for the production of nuclear weapons.
(O Estado May 5, 2006)
Startup of Resende enrichment plant deferred further
The commercial startup of the Resende enrichment plant, scheduled for Jan. 17, 2006, had to be delayed further. The plant is running in test mode since August 2005. In addition, the completion of the first stage of the plant (114,000 SWU/year) has been postponed from 2008 to 2010 for budgetary restrictions.
(O Estado Jan. 16, 2006)
Startup of Resende enrichment plant deferred until 2006
On Sep. 5, 2005, the minister of Science and Technology, Sergio Rezende, informed that the inauguration of the Resende enrichment plant will be deferred until 2006.
(Agencia Brasil, Sep. 5, 2005)
Strike paralyzes Resende enrichment and nuclear fuel plant
On Dec. 16, 2004, the employees of the Resende enrichment plant and nuclear fuel plant initiated a strike for higher wages, paralyzing the fuel production and the uranium enrichment tests.
The tests are essential for the planned commencement of commercial enrichment operation in March 2005.
(La Prensa, Dec. 17, 2004)
Brazil and IAEA reach agreement in principle on inspections at Resende enrichment plant
"We have been able to reach an agreement in principle with the Brazilian government on a safeguards approach to verify the enrichment facilities in Brazil, at the Resende facility. An approach which will enable us to do credible inspections but at the same time take care of Brazil's need to protect certain commercial sensitivity inside the facility. That approach has been, as I have said, agreed on principle and I expect in the next couple of weeks, to be finalized in a formal way." (IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in a press briefing on Nov. 25, 2004)
Brazil refuses IAEA access to Resende enrichment plant
The Brazilian government has refused to allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to examine a facility for enriching uranium under construction near Rio de Janeiro, according to Brazilian officials and diplomats in Vienna, home of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Brazil maintains that the facility will produce low-enriched uranium for use in power plants, not the highly enriched material used in nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, Brazil refuses to let IAEA inspectors see equipment in the plant, citing a need to protect proprietary information.
(Washington Post April 4, 2004)
IAEA wants access to Brazil's uranium enrichment plant
The U.N. nuclear watchdog is negotiating with the Brazilian government to ensure that a new uranium enrichment facility due to begin operating next year is properly safeguarded. Brazil has no safeguards agreement with the IAEA covering the facility, which is still under construction. This means the IAEA has no official right to inspect it when it goes live.
(Reuters Dec. 19, 2003)
Brazil makes further announcement to begin uranium enrichment shortly
On Oct. 6, 2003, the minister of Science and Technology, Roberto Amaral, announced that Brazil will start enrichment of uranium from 2004. It is the goal of the government to achieve by 2010 production of 60% of the enriched uranium required by the nuclear power plants Angra 1 and 2. From 2014, Brazil could become an exporter and could also supply the fuel for a possible Angra 3 unit, on which no decision has been made yet. (O Estado 6 Oct. 2003)
Brazil opens Resende enrichment plant
From 2003, Brazil hopes to cover some 95 percent of its uranium enrichment requirements with the new Resende enrichment plant, which was opened on December 11, 2002.
(Reuters Dec. 11, 2002)
Startup of Resende enrichment plant deferred further
INB - the state-owned uranium mining and enrichment company - expects to begin enriching uranium in early 2003. A company spokesman said INB 'should begin the first round of production as early as January or as late as March'.
(WNA News Briefing 02.46)
Resende enrichment plant to start commercial operation
INB will start commercial production of enriched uranium at Resende in July 2002. The initial production will be 20 tonnes per year. (O Globo May 26, 2002)
Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) was expected to sign a contract with the Brazilian navy to build a 100 000 SWU/year gas centrifuge enrichment plant at Resende. The Brazilian government has reportedly agreed to pay 250 million reals (US$130 million) to fund the project. The plant would supply about half the enrichment services needed by Angra-1 and -2, and Brazil currently has no plans to export enrichment services. INB plans to have the first 20 000 SWU/year cascade in operation by the end of 2001. (UI News Briefing 00.29)
Necsa to make a call on uranium enrichment:
The proposed expansion of South Africa's nuclear power generating capability to seven plants, as proposed in the Integrated Resource Plan, will be pivotal to a decision on whether uranium enrichment is resumed at the Pelindaba nuclear research centre.
A resumption will be needed to fuel the new power station fleet and make South Africa an exporter of enriched uranium. While questions remain over South Africa's ability to build the reactors, or fund and maintain them, the CEO of the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), Phumzile Tshelane, says the decision "is purely Necsa's" and will be determined by economics.
While one nuclear plant does not warrant uranium enrichment in South Africa, the game changes with a fleet of seven - Koeberg and the proposed six new ones.
However, the National Planning Commission has called for caution over the nuclear-build programme, and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa has told Parliament's energy committee that such a scheme could trigger further electricity price hikes.
(Business Day Aug. 21, 2013)
South Africa is expected to begin enriching uranium by 2017, Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa CEO Rob Adam said on June 25, 2007.
"It could even be in five years, but definitely in ten years' time," he said.
South Africa, which dismantled its nuclear weapons programme during the 1990s, indicated in 2006 that it was considering enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.
However, Department of Minerals and Energy director-general Sandile Nogxina stressed that any uranium enrichment taking place in the country would be under government control.
A private company could have equity in an enriching initiative, but not a controlling stake, he said.
(Mining Weekly June 25, 2007)
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Heathgate Resources proposes to build uranium conversion plant at its Beverley uranium mine (South Australia)
Heathgate Resources wants to build a uranium conversion plant at its Beverley mine to add greater value to the raw material it mines at the site.
Heathgate would need State and Federal Government approval to build a conversion plant but has not raised the issue yet.
Heathgate Resources is owned by the giant American defence and nuclear group General Atomics.
General Atomics also owns 50 per cent of a uranium conversion company called ConverDyn , which has its head office in Colorado.
Heathgate president David Williams said if a conversion plant was to be built by Heathgate it would need to act as a centre for all Australian uranium miners to be economically viable.
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the Government was opposed to the development of a nuclear power industry, other than uranium mining and milling.
(The Advertiser Sep. 26, 2009)
> View Current Issues for Converdyn's Metropolis conversion plant (Illinois)
Company proposes nuclear reactors and uranium enrichment plant for Eyre Peninsula (South Australia)
SA Nuclear Energy Systems Pty Ltd will submit its plans for a nuclear industry to be introduced to South Australia, with Eyre Peninsula to be a focal point.
While the process is still in its early days, the company hopes to build small nuclear reactors around Eyre Peninsula, potentially contributing billions of dollars to the South Australian economy.
The company's plans for Eyre Peninsula, including a $7 billion uranium enrichment plant in Whyalla, will now have to meet the Royal Commission's terms of reference.
(Port Lincoln Times Feb. 26, 2015)
Royal Commission on prospects of uranium enrichment and nuclear power in South Australia
Uranium enrichment not commercially viable in the next decade, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia finds:
The report of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was released on May 9, 2016. Concerning the topic of "Further processing and manufacture from radioactive ores", the report summarizes:
"[...] South Australia is technically capable of providing these services; however, there are significant barriers to entering these commercial markets. Further, these markets are currently over-supplied. The Commission considers that the provision of these services would not, either singularly or in combination, be commercially viable in the next decade."
> Download: Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report , May 2016
Comments invited on Terms of Reference for Royal Commission on prospects of uranium enrichment and nuclear power in South Australia:
The draft Terms of Reference were released on February 23, 2015.
Submit comments by March 13, 2015.
> Royal Commission - Our role in nuclear energy (yourSAy)
Former Governor of South Australia Kevin Scarce will be appointed to head the Royal Commission which will consider what role our State can potentially play in the fuel cycle for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. (Premier Jay Weatherill news release, Feb. 9, 2015)
Submit suggestions for the Terms of Reference by February 16, 2015 at 06:00 PM.
South Australia appoints Royal Commission on prospects of uranium enrichment and nuclear power in the state:
The South Australian government has called the nation's first ever royal commission [Commission of Enquiry] on nuclear fuel, raising the prospect of generating nuclear power in Australia and enriching uranium for export.
Calling for a "mature" debate about the uses of uranium and nuclear energy, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced on Sunday (Jan. 8) that the high-level probe would look at "mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases" of the nuclear fuel cycle.
(Sydney Morning Herald Feb. 8, 2015)
> Download Premier Jay Weatherill news release, Feb. 8, 2015 (72kB PDF)
Plan for enrichment plant in Australia floated
The company Nuclear Fuel Australia Limited is studying the feasibility of a uranium enrichment plant which could be operational by 2015. The plant - modelled on Urenco's National Enrichment Facility in the U.S. - would cost A$2.5 billion to build, with construction able to take place from 2010-15. (AAP June 14, 2007)
Urenco interested in building enrichment plant in Australia
Urenco is interested in building an enrichment plant in Australia, saying Australia would be a good base for servicing the growing Asia-Pacific market for nuclear power fuel. Urenco would be interested in assessing the economics of building an enrichment plant in Australia if it were invited to do so.
Areva, however, ruled out interest in investing in uranium enrichment in Australia, saying it made little commercial sense unless the nation was prepared to go for nuclear energy.
(Australian May 27, 2006)
Uranium enrichment in Australia?
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has opened a new front in the nuclear debate, saying Australia needs to consider whether it should enrich uranium.
(The Age May 21, 2006)
Junior uranium miner invests in development of new chemical uranium enrichment technology
On Jan. 25, 2023, Okapi Resources Limited announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to become a cornerstone [19.9%] shareholder in Ubaryon Pty Ltd . Ubaryon is a private Australian company which is developing and commercialising a novel uranium enrichment technology based on the chemical separation of naturally occurring isotopes. The magnitude of the observed enrichment factor is between 10 and 30 times higher than that of previous chemical enrichment technologies developed in France and Japan.
A significant feature of the Ubaryon Enrichment Technology is that it eliminates the need for conversion from yellowcake to UF6 and the need for deconversion from UF6 to uranium oxide.
> See also USEC: Development of Laser-based enrichment technology
> View Silex's ASX announcements
Silex website hacked
On July 2, 2008, several pages of Silex' website were hacked. Hopefully, the company protects its classified enrichment technology better than its website!
GE signs agreement with Silex to develop laser-based uranium enrichment technology
GE Energy's nuclear business has signed an exclusive agreement with Silex Systems Limited , an Australia-based technology innovator, to license the technology and develop the company's next generation low enriched uranium manufacturing process in the United States.
The transaction is subject to, among other things, governmental approvals and regulatory controls on the design, construction and operation of the process.
The agreement provides for a phased approach to the development of the Silex technology and the potential construction of a test loop, pilot plant, and a full-scale, commercial enrichment facility. These operations would be built at GE's existing nuclear energy headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. or another suitable location in the United States.
(GE May 22, 2006)
On October 4, 2006, Silex announced that GE Energy's nuclear business and Silex Systems Limited have received the U.S. government authorizations required to proceed with an agreement granting GE exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Silex's laser-based uranium enrichment technology.
> See also: GE Silex laser isotope separation enrichment demonstration facility project in Wilmington, North Carolina
Silex announces completion of Uranium Enrichment Direct Measurement Program
"Silex Systems Limited is pleased to announce that the SILEX Uranium Enrichment Direct Measurement (DM) Program has been successfully completed. The results achieved support the attractive economics of earlier estimates. [...] With the completion of the DM program, attention is now focused on securing an agreement with an industry partner to assist in the scale-up of development activities leading to the commercial deployment of our technology." (Silex May 19, 2005)
Greenpeace Australia reveals government support for SILEX uranium enrichment technology
On Nov. 30, 2004, Greenpeace Australia released a report exposing the Australian Government's support of the classified SILEX uranium enrichment technology and revealing the nuclear proliferation risk of this technology.
> Download Secrets, Lies and Uranium Enrichment, The classified Silex project at Lucas Heights , Greenpeace, November 2004 (1.6M PDF)
Silex completes silicon laser enrichment pilot plant, continues work on uranium enrichment
Silex announces the completion and commissioning of its silicon laser enrichment pilot plant. With the pilot plant, Silex hopes "to demonstrate satisfactory economics for the process". Silicon enrichment is believed to be of value for the computer chip industry, allowing for higher heat dissipation in the chips.
Silex furthermore continues to study the economics of uranium laser enrichment. A related program is expected to be completed by early 2005.
(Silex July 5, 2004)
USEC ends funding of research on SILEX enrichment process and focuses on centrifuge technology
On April 30, 2003, USEC Inc. announced that it is ending its funding for research and development of the SILEX laser-based uranium enrichment process. USEC has been funding R&D on the SILEX process since 1996, when the Company signed an agreement with Silex Systems Limited in Australia. USEC will now focus all of its advanced technology resources on the demonstration and deployment of USECís American Centrifuge uranium enrichment technology. (USEC April 30, 2003)
USEC confirms continued support for development of Silex laser enrichment technology
USEC Inc, the US-based partner in the SILEX uranium enrichment
development program, has confirmed its commitment to continue to
support the program despite USEC's announcement regarding the deployment of
US centrifuge technology. (Silex June 20, 2002)
In spite of these assurances, however, shares in Silex Systems dived more than 40 per cent on June 20, 2002. (The Age June 21, 2002)
SILEX uranium enrichment technology classified
On 20 June 2001, Silex Systems Ltd (Silex) announced that its laser-based SILEX uranium enrichment technology has been officially classified by both the U.S. and Australian governments.
The new SILEX technology (Separation of Isotopes by Laser EXcitation) is being developed jointly by Silex and US company