Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the US-based Centrus Energy at a ceremony in Washington DC to enhance the nuclear fuel supply chain. The LOI outlines specific business objectives for establishing a concrete framework for uranium resource security and nuclear energy cooperation between KHNP and Centrus.

This followed a memorandum of understanding agreed in April 2023 between the two companies. KHNP said then it would "increase the stability of fuel supply and demand by diversifying suppliers of enriched uranium used as nuclear power plant fuel and contribute to strengthening Korea-US nuclear cooperation by establishing a strategic partnership with US enrichment companies”.

KHNP is hoping to stabilise the enriched uranium supply chain and diversify suppliers. Centrus is the only US company approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for next-generation reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs).

KHNP CEO Hwang Joo-ho stated: “Through the signing of this letter of intent, we will commence specific discussions on stable nuclear fuel supply and will continue to explore opportunities for business collaboration through the expansion of our nuclear fuel supply network in the future.”

Centrus’s plant in Piketon, Ohio produced 20 kilograms of HALEU in November 2023, meeting a commitment to the US Department of Energy (DOE). The Korean government recently announced that an industrial complex dedicated to SMR development and manufacturing will be established in the South Gyeongsang region.

Image: Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power CEO Whang Joo-ho (L) with Centrus Energy CEO Amir Vexler at the signing ceremony in Washington, DC, US (courtesy of KHNP)