The revenue of Russia’s Siberian Chemical Company (SCC) in 2016 amounted to RUB14.9n (253m) up from RUB14.2bn in 2015. Net profit was more than RUB1.8bn, RUB1.1bn more than in 2015. SCC, part of Rosatom’s fuel company Tvel, is Russia’s only producer of uranium hexafluoride (conversion), and also specialises in the enrichment of natural and regenerated uranium for NPP fuel. It produces stable isotopes and has facilities for refining natural and recovered uranium from chemical and radioactive impurities. SCC also produces high purity fluorides of various metals.
SCC Director General Sergey Tochilin said the main achievements were implementation of the industry conversion programme, the successful testing of experimental fuel assemblies with mixed nitride uranium-plutonium fuel for the Proryv project, and the production of fuel rods with remix fuel as part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s strategic innovation project. He noted that the radiation situation at the plant was stable and that more than RUB450m had been spent on environmental measures.
SCC also produced and sold to both Russian and foreign consumers a range of stable isotopes including tin, selenium, tungsten, sulphur, chromium, tellurium, lead, germanium, xenon, krypton, chlorine. Revenue from the sale of isotope products for the first half of 2017 was almost 25% up on the same period of 2016. In January 2017 a high-tech gas centrifuge unit was put into operation at the isotope separation plant, which significantly boosted production capacity.
Over the past year, Tvel completed the programme to concentration uranium conversion at SCC. Conversion has now ceased at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Combine, the Machine Building Plant (Moscow Region) and the Angarsk Electro-Chemical Plant (Irkutsk region). SCC has a capacity of 12,000 tonnes a year which is enough for Russia’s needs and for some foreign customers. Tochilin said plans to increase the capacity to 18,000 tonnes were postponed after Fukushima but that it would only require two years to build new capacity in future if the need arose. However, the current capacity is expected to cover Rosatom’s need for uranium hexafluoride for the next 9-10 years.
There is some uncertainty about the future of SCC’s ageing isotope separation plant at SCC and rumours that the work would be transferred to the Electro-Chemical Plant in Zeleznogorsk (Krasnoyrask) sparked protests and demonstrations last year. However, Tochlin said work is continuing and will continue until replacement capacity is available. “Only then will it be possible to make a decision,” he noted. However he thought it likely that the eighth-generation centrifuges at SCC’s ZRI plant would be decommissioned, although he could not give a time frame. He added that other Rosatom enterprises use modern units, which are 2-4 times more productive, occupy less space and are more profitable. However, Tvel president Yury Olenin gave assurances last November that, if the plant were closed, the 600 people employed at the enterprise would be employed: 300 on decommissioning, and 300 will be offered other employment options.