Urenco and Areva have finalised a deal for the development of the Enrichment Technology Company (ETC) using Urenco’s gas centrifuge technology.
The joint venture is now effective with the acquisition by Areva of a 50% equity stake in ETC, which will be the exclusive vehicle for the centrifuge technology business for both partners, although Urenco and Areva will continue to compete in the provision and marketing of uranium enrichment services.
ETC technology will be used in two key projects, Georges Besse 2 located at Tricastin, France led by Areva, and the National Enrichment Facility (NEF) located in the USA, led by Urenco.
The overall cost of the Georges Besse II project is estimated at around €3 billion, a major share of which will be financed by the plant itself once it begins operation.
The plant will be situated on the Tricastin site in the South of France and will replace Eurodif’s gaseous diffusion enrichment plant which has been in operation on the same site since 1978.
Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon said: “By acquiring 50% of ETC’s shares, Areva secures access to, support for and development of the ETC technology and related services required to build Georges Besse II.”
The deal followed an Areva board meeting at which the company adopted strategic guidelines for 2006-2011, including the construction of the Georges Besse II plant.
Worksite construction and civil engineering work will start during the summer of 2006 with initial production due to begin in early 2009 and a gradual increase in capacity up until 2017.
Meanwhile, Urenco’s Louisiana Energy Services (LES) subsidiary has been granted main board approval to construct and operate the National Enrichment Facility (NEF) in Lea County, New Mexico in the United States.
Following licence approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 23 June, the move gives the final go ahead for construction to begin on the uranium enrichment plant.
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