International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano told the board of governors on 12 June that the low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel bank project at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Kazakhstan was continuing to make good progress and that he planned to attend the inauguration ceremony on 29 August.
“Construction of the LEU Storage Facility by Kazakhstan is proceeding on schedule,” he said. “We continue to work on the LEU Procurement Plan and aim to have a LEU acquisition contract in place before the end of 2017. Our goal is that all the LEU acquired will be transported to the Storage Facility in 2018. The IAEA LEU Bank will then have been established.”
The legal framework agreement for the establishment of the LEU bank was signed in August 2015 and construction began in August 2016. The bank, which will hold up to 90 tonnes of LEU, is intended to provide a stable and predictable supply of fuel for IAEA member states if other supply mechanisms are disrupted. The IAEA signed agreements with Russia in 2015 and China in April this year to ensure safe transit of LEU to the bank through their territories. The agreement with Russia came into force earlier this month.