Australia agrees to supply uranium to Ukraine

01 April 2016

Julie Bishop, the Australian foreign minister, yesterday signed an agreement with Ukrainian energy and coal industry minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn that clears the way for Australia to export uranium to Ukraine.

Australia-Ukraine - March 2016 - 460 (Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry)
Bishop and Demchyshyn at the ceremony, witnessed by Poroshenko (Image: Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry)

The agreement was signed at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington DC during a ceremony attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Bishop and Poroshenko are in the USA for the global Nuclear Security Summit being held this week in the US capital.

The Minerals Council of Australia welcomed Bishop's announcement that she would sign a cooperation agreement to supply uranium to Ukraine for use in power generation.

The Council said: "This development is another important step in responsibly growing Australia's market access for uranium exports. It comes following Australia's agreements with growing markets in the United Arab Emirates, China and India in recent years."

It said Ukraine would be added to the list of countries that have signed bilateral agreements with Australia committing them to use Australian-sourced uranium solely for peaceful purposes.

"The architecture of international cooperation, IAEA Safeguards and bilateral agreements provides the framework for Australia's supply of uranium to export markets under Treaty conditions committing those countries to use it exclusively for peaceful pruposes such as electricity generation," the Council said. "Ukraine has been and continues to be an important nuclear power generating country," it said.

It noted that Ukraine has 15 reactors generating about half of its electricity and the government plans to maintain nuclear's share in electricity production at least to 2030.

Citing the Joint Report by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the IAEA, the Council said that Ukraine will go from 13.1 GWe nuclear generating capacity in 2013, to between 24.7-29.0 GWe nuclear generating capacity in 2035. This will see Ukraine's uranium requirements rise from 2480 tonnes in 2013, to between 4800-5300 tonnes per annum in 2035, it added.

"Australia holds almost a third of the world's uranium resources but currently supplies only around 10% of global production. In 2014-15 Australia exported more than 5500 tonnes of uranium generating more than half a billion dollars in export income. Access to growing Ukrainian uranium demand creates opportunities for more tonnes, more exports, and more jobs in mine construction and operations," the Council said.

For Ukraine, the agreement means additional diversity of uranium supply, it said.

The Ukrainian energy ministry said that the two countries had "confirmed their willingness to cooperate" in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and their "commitment to promoting non-proliferation of nuclear weapons".

Areas of cooperation include, the ministry said: the transfer of nuclear materials; basic and applied research, and development, design, construction, operation and decommissioning of research reactors, nuclear power plants and other aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle; used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste; nuclear safety, radiation protection and environmental protection; geological and geophysical exploration, and development, production, further processing and use of uranium resources.

The newly signed document follows a "preliminary agreement" with Australia on cooperation in nuclear energy that was signed during Poroshenko's official visit to Australia in 2014, the ministry said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News