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Uranium production to double

Power – the key
consumer of
world uranium
Paris, France — MININGREVIEW.COM — 26 March, 2008 – French-based Areva SA – the world’s largest nuclear plant builder – is setting up an engineering venture with oilfield services provider Technip SA to implement a US$4.7 billion (close to R40 billion) plan to double uranium production in five years.

Revealing this development, Bloomberg News reports that Technip and Areva’s SGN unit will create a company called TSU Project to launch 10 mining projects – most of them in Africa. “The plan is to increase Areva’s 2007 uranium output of about 6 000 t to more than 12 000 t by 2013. An integral part of venture will be the acceleration of the Imouraren and Trekkopie projects in Niger and Namibia, an Areva statement added.

Areva – the world’s third-largest miner of uranium – has benefited from increasing power demand in emerging markets, which has prompted this renewed interest in nuclear energy. SGN is a world leader in nuclear fuel cycle engineering and a key partner for Areva’s major domestic and foreign nuclear projects. And Technip – a world leader in oil and gas engineering – also boasts expertise in nickel, uranium, bauxite and silicon mining.

Uranium production stagnated for more than a decade after the price of the metal crashed from a 1970’s peak, closing most new projects and expansions, Bloomberg reports. Mining companies produced 39 429 t of uranium in 2006, or 62 percent of the world’s reactor needs that year – the last year for which full data is available, according to the London- based World Nuclear Association.

Last year, Australia and Kazakhstan – the world’s No. 1 and No. 3 suppliers of uranium – posted gains in output, while Canada – the second-largest producer – said output had fallen. The three countries mine more than half of the world’s uranium.