Urenco plans to expand US enrichment plant

12 July 2023

Urenco USA (UUSA) has announced plans to increase capacity at its uranium enrichment plant in Eunice, New Mexico by 15%. It said the project will see multiple new centrifuge cascades added to the plant as the first project to be delivered as part of a capacity programme, which "will strengthen the nuclear fuel supply chain both in the US and globally". UUSA said new commitments from US customers for non-Russian fuel underpin this investment.

The expansion of the Eunice plant - operated by Louisiana Energy Services (LES) - will provide an additional capacity of around 700 tonnes of separative work units (tSWU) a year, with the first new cascades coming online in 2025. The plant currently has a production capacity of 4600 tSWU a year. It is the only operating commercial uranium enrichment facility in North America

Urenco said the capacity programme is a long-term plan to extend and refurbish enrichment capacity at its sites to meet increasing customer demand "as more countries and utility companies turn to nuclear for the first time, or seek to extend and/or diversify fuel supplies for existing nuclear operations". Urenco also operates three enrichment facilities in Europe: at Capenhurst in the UK, Almelo in the Netherlands and Gronau in Germany.

"Urenco is committed to supporting customers with their energy security and carbon reduction needs and this investment is a further sign of the exciting momentum behind nuclear, a reliable and low-carbon source that can maintain baseload energy and help us achieve net-zero," said Urenco CEO Boris Schucht. "We have the licences, designs, technology and proven capability to expand our capacity, and we are already seeing an increase in demand for our services from existing customers and new ones.”

In March 2015, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a licence amendment allowing Urenco to expand its Eunice enrichment plant. The amendment is related to LES's plans to expand its enrichment capacity at the UUSA facility by adding three new separation building modules and associated support facilities, in a phased approach over the next several years.

"As a leading enrichment company in the Western world, we have the duty to respond to the needs of the market. We will continue to monitor, forecast and support our customers and governments as we look to take further investment decisions across our enrichment sites," said Schucht.

Image: The UUSA facility in Eunice, New Mexico (courtesy of Urenco)

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