Kazakhstan’s national atomic company, Kazatomprom, has announced that the first batch of AFA 3G TM fuel assemblies has been delivered to China from its Ulba-FA LLP plant. Kazatomprom said that railway platforms with 34 shipping containers containing fuel assemblies equivalent to one reload (a little over 30 tons of low-enriched uranium), escorted by special-purpose security, had been delivered to an NPP in China and accepted by the customer, China General Nuclear Power Corporation CGNPC-URC, a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

Kazatomprom’s Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP) manufacturers of uranium, beryllium, tantalum and niobium products for nuclear power energy, electronics, metallurgy industry purposes and other fields. The company is a part of Kazatomprom. Ulba-FA LLP is a Kazakhstan-China joint venture with UMP holding 51 and CGNPC-URC holding 49%.

Ulba-FA LLP started operating in November 2021 after passing qualification from French company Framatome, the owner of AFA 3G FA manufacture technology, and being acknowledged as a qualified nuclear fuel supplier by product end customer CGNPC-URC.

Ulba-FA LLP, Kazakhstan’s only manufacturer of nuclear fuel for NPPs, has a production capacity is 200 tons a year of low-enriched uranium and has guaranteed sales market for the next 20 years. "The project is a good example of successful multi-party cooperation among the leading global companies in the nuclear industry. Uranium material mined in Kazakhstan and processed in Ulba Metallurgical Plant is used in FA manufacture," Kazatomprom stated. 

"The Ulba-FA plant allowed Kazatomprom to diversify production, expand the network and produce high-tech, export-oriented uranium products with high added value. Successful delivery of products to Chinese partners has confirmed the reputation of Kazatomprom as a reliable and preferred supplier in the global nuclear fuel market," said Yerzhan Mukanov, Chairman of the Kazatomprom Board.

“The first shipment of the finished product marked the beginning of regular supplies of nuclear fuel, which is very important not only for our enterprises, but also for Kazakhstan and China for peaceful nuclear development," said Sergey Bezhetsky, Board UMP Chairman.

Arman Suleymenov, General Director of Ulbi-FA LLP, noted: "The harmonious work of the team of employees of Ulbi-FA LLP, UMP JSC and URC-Logistics, with the participation of representatives of the end customer, helped to realise the historical event." 

Kazatomprom is the world's largest producer of uranium, with the company's attributable production representing approximately 24% of global primary uranium production in 2021. The company has the largest reserve base in the industry and, through its subsidiaries, JVs and Associates, operates 26 deposits in Kazakhstan, grouped into 14 mining assets. All of the company's mining operations are located in Kazakhstan and extract uranium using in-situ recovery technology.


Image: The containers of fresh fuel were transported by rail (courtesy of Kazatomprom)