Cameco to supply Ukraine's uranium needs to 2035

09 February 2023

Ukraine's state-owned nuclear energy utility Energoatom and Cameco Corporation have agreed commercial terms for a major supply contract that would see Cameco meeting Ukraine's needs for natural uranium for nuclear fuel until 2035.

(Image: @cameconews)

The contract will see the Canada-based fuel producer "provide sufficient volumes of natural uranium hexafluoride, or UF6 (consisting of uranium and conversion services), to meet Ukraine's full nuclear fuel needs through 2035."

The agreement will run from 2024 to 2035, with all deliveries in the form of UF6. The contract - which the companies said they anticipate will be finalised during the first quarter of this year - will "contain a required degree of flexibility, given present circumstances in Ukraine".

Cameco will supply 100% of Energoatom's UF6 requirements for the nine nuclear reactors at the Rivne, Khmelnitsky and South Ukraine nuclear power plants for the duration of the contract. These plants have combined requirements over the contract term of some 15.3 million kgU as UF6, the companies said - equivalent to 40.1 million pounds U3O8 (15,424 tU).

"The contract will also contain an option for Cameco to supply up to 100% of the fuel requirements for the six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, currently under Russian control, should it return to Energoatom's operation," they said. Zaporizhzhia would require roughly 10.4 million kgU as UF6 (the equivalent of around 27.2 million pounds U3O8) over the entire contract period.

"Energoatom will keep working on achieving the energy independence of Ukraine. The development of cooperation between companies in the production and supply of nuclear materials and nuclear fuel is one of the most important conditions for the further safe functioning of our domestic nuclear power generation," Energoatom President Petro Kotin said.

Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel said the contract would help Ukraine gain supply security for significant nuclear fuel components in "extraordinarily challenging" times for the country. "This has the potential to be the single largest supply contract in Cameco's history, and it is only achievable through the strong relationship that has developed between our two companies. Commercial arrangements between Cameco and Energoatom began modestly in 2018 and have grown today into a significant strategic partnership," he said.

The contract amounts are subject to customary volume flexibility provisions commonly contained in supply agreements, the companies said. Financial terms of the contract are confidential and will not be released.

Energoatom's efforts to diversify its nuclear fuel supply have been ongoing for many years: by 2021, Westinghouse-supplied fuel was already in operation at six of Ukraine's Russian-designed VVER-1000 reactors. In December, the company held talks with Urenco about increasing the supply of enriched uranium to Westinghouse for the production of nuclear fuel for its plants in 2024-25.

Last week Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country had introduced sanctions against Russia's nuclear industry.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News