Leonam Guimaraes, president of Brazil's state nuclear power company Eletronuclear, told Reuters that Brazil plans to complete the delayed unit 3 at its Angra NPP in partnership with either China's National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), France's EDF or Russia state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
Eletronuclear will decide by the end of the year whether to create a subsidiary joint venture or whether the foreign partner will become a minority shareholder in the state company, which would also entitle it to a stake in Angra 1 and 2. Guimaraes said the partner would require deep pockets, as completion of Angra 3 will require BRL15 billion ($3.7 billion) on top of the BLR9 billion already invested. "We are looking for an international partnership to invest in the completion of Angra 3 and that partner would own part of the plant until the end of its life," he said. Under Brazilian law, any partner must hold less than 50% of the voting capital.
In June, Eletronuclear tested market interest in a partnership for Angra 3 by inviting 10 foreign firms, Guimaraes said. Seven replied but CNNC, EDF and Rosatom showed the most interest, he said. US-based Westinghouse and France's Framatome, majority owned by EDF, were also interested, but they are suppliers of nuclear technology and Eletronuclear is looking for a partner to assist with construction of Angra 3, Guimaraes said. South Korea's Kepco Engineering and Construction and China's State Power Investment Corporation also expressed interest but seemed less committed to exploring a partnership, he added.
Angra 3 was planned in the 1980s but work stopped due to lack of finance. Construction resumed in 2010, but Eletronuclear faced a corruption scandal in 2015 and stopped paying contractors, including French company Areva, which was installing the Siemens-designed reactor technology now owned by Framatome. Angra 3 is 70% complete and 80% of the nuclear reactor equipment has been bought and is being stored, costing Eletronuclear BRL25 million a year on upkeep and insurance for the construction site. This excludes interest payments on BRL10 billion in loans from national development bank BNDES to build Angra 3. Eletronuclear is a subsidiary of state-run electric utility Eletrobras, which the government plans to privatise, although the nuclear power unit will be spun off and remain under state control.
Brazil has plans to increase its nuclear capacity in future with two potential sites for future plants already identified in the northeastern state of Pernambuco and in southeastern Minas Gerais state. Brazil’s only uranium mine in Bahia state is currently not operating because of licensing issues and Brazil has had to buy uranium concentrate for Angra 1&2 on the global market, mainly from Canada, Russia and Kazakhstan. The uranium is enriched and made into fuel by the Resende Nuclear Fuel Facility in the State of Rio de Janeiro managed by the Nuclear Industries of Brazil (Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil). A new open pit mine in Bahia near the first mine is expected to be licensed by the end of 2019, Guimaraes said.