Ukraine and Australia on 31 March 31 signed an inter-governmental agreement concerning the cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy laying the groundwork for Australian uranium deliveries to Ukraine. The agreement was signed at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington DC.
Areas of cooperation reportedly include the transfer of nuclear materials; basic and applied research, and development, design, construction, operation and decommissioning of research reactors, nuclear power plants and other aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle; used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste; nuclear safety, radiation protection and environmental protection; geological and geophysical exploration, and development, production, further processing and use of uranium resources.
Vladimir Demchishin, Ukraine's energy and coal industry minister told journalists that commercial uranium supply agreements could be signed as early as 2017. The intergovernmental agreement must first be ratified by the Australian parliament.
He added that Ukraine is ready to purchase up to 25% of its uranium feed from Australia. "We thought about approximately 300-600t a year," he specified during a ceremony attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Bishop and Poroshenko are in the USA for the global Nuclear Security Summit being held this week in the US capital.
The Minerals Council of Australia said: "This development is another important step in responsibly growing Australia's market access for uranium exports. It comes following Australia's agreements with growing markets in the United Arab Emirates, China and India in recent years." It said Ukraine would be added to the list of countries that have signed bilateral agreements with Australia committing them to use Australian-sourced uranium solely for peaceful purposes.
"Australia holds almost a third of the world's uranium resources but currently supplies only around 10% of global production. In 2014-15 Australia exported more than 5500 tonnes of uranium generating more than half a billion dollars in export income. Access to growing Ukrainian uranium demand creates opportunities for more tonnes, more exports, and more jobs in mine construction and operations," the Council said.