Montreal’s major engineering company AtkinsRéalis (TSX: ATRL), formerly SNC Lavalin, presented its most advanced newly developed nuclear technology at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris, France.
On Tuesday, the company introduced its 1,000-megawatt CANDU MONARK reactor, a power-generating system currently in the definition phase of development. AtkinsRéalis claims it will be the easiest nuclear reactor design to build, operate and maintain in its portfolio.
It utilizes the proven and tested qualities of the original CANDU reactor design. Several CANDU reactors have been operating within Canada and throughout four different continents for over 60 years. The Canadian government and the company just signed a deal at the exhibition in Paris to refurbish one of those reactors that has been running at a Romanian nuclear plant since 1996.
Two additional CANDU reactors are being constructed at Romania’s Cernavodă plant as well, the country’s only nuclear power station. A $3 billion deal for their installation was signed in September.
“These modern large-scale reactors will play a critical role in producing the quantum of additional electricity supply that’s required to power the energy transition,” said the company’s President and CEO, Ian L. Edwards.
It is notable that the CANDU reactors produce approximately 50 per cent of the world’s cobalt-60, a synthetic radioactive isotope used for sterilizing medical equipment and radiation therapy in cancer patients.
“The new CANDU MONARK reactor design will ensure CANDU technology remains front and centre amid growing interest in nuclear energy around the world as part of the clean energy transition. Congratulations to AtkinsRéalis!” said Canada’s Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development, Mary Ng.
Minister Ng visited the Canada Pavilion at the World Nuclear Exhibition to see firsthand the innovative work being done by Canadian companies to provide the world with clean, responsible, and efficient #NuclearPower! 🌎 pic.twitter.com/Wjqpv7SA2X
— Canada Trade (@CanadaTrade) November 28, 2023
60 reactors under construction globally
Approximately 60 nuclear reactors are currently being installed throughout the globe, requiring a vast amount of uranium fuel.
A shortage of uranium, the increasing number of reactors and a growing interest in carbon-neutral power sources worldwide have caused the price of the radioactive metal to ascend to a 15-year high at over US$80 per pound. Some analysts have even predicted that uranium could be worth as much as US$100 a pound by the end of this year.
In Canada, the rising demand has prompted an increased rate of exploration and development in the country’s vast uranium mining jurisdiction, the Athabasca Basin.
Last month, Saskatchewan’s government agreed to grant NexGen Energy Ltd. (TSX: NXE) the first comprehensive environmental authorization for a major uranium project in the province over 20 years. NexGen aims to develop the Rook I project, situated in the southwestern section of the Basin, into one of the world’s top uranium-producing assets.
England’s Fulcrum Metals plc (LON: FMET) just announced that it was expanding its uranium exploration portfolio in Saskatchewan by over 200 per cent. Through staking and acquiring an option, the company now has four projects within a land package spanning over 59,000 hectares.
Cameco Corporation (TSX: CCO) (NYSE: CCJ) is the top industrial influence in the region. The company operates the highest-grade and largest high-grade uranium operations in the entire world within the Basin.
The company also runs the world’s largest commercial uranium refinery in Blind River, Ontario. It produces uranium trioxide powder that is further processed into uranium hexafluoride and uranium oxide used in CANDU reactors.
Other companies like ATHA Energy Corp. (CSE: SASK) (FRA: X5U) (OTCQB: SASKF) have been identifying high-priority uranium drill targets in the vastly underexplored region through large-scale surveys. ATHA holds a 10 per cent carried interest on certain portions of NexGen’s land package in the Athabasca Basin.
The Saskatchewan Research Council initiated a partnership with the major nuclear company Westinghouse Electric earlier this week. The two organizations have received an $80 million grant to develop an experimental “microreactor” in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan just signed an agreement to build small modular nuclear reactors (SMR) in partnership with Ontario Power Generation as well. Estevan and Elbow have been considered as potential sites for the first GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 SMRs in the province.
Asia and China in particular account for the majority of nuclear reactors currently being built globally. Other countries with nuclear power units under construction include the United States, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
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