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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Alternative Energy

Canada well-equipped to lead modern nuclear transition: Macdonald Laurier Institute

A robust rate of uranium production and a strong domestic supply chain position the country as a leading influence

Canada well-equipped for modern nuclear transition: Macdonald Laurier Institute
Researcher and engineer Grant Minor holds a CANDU reactor fuel bundle replica in Toronto last year. Photo credit: University of Toronto

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on nuclear power, Canada will continue to be one of the industry’s leading influences and further enhance its stature in the sector.

The country’s uranium mining infrastructure positions it as the second-largest producer of a commodity in higher demand than ever before. Uranium production will only increase.

Canada’s major engineering company AtkinsRéalis (TSX: ATRL) was responsible for developing one of the world’s safest and most efficient nuclear power units (CANDU). The nation is also a leader in the development of new technologies, such as small modular reactors (SMR).

“The CANDU reactor is the unsung hero of the Canadian energy industry,” Sasha Istvan, an engineer from Alberta, said in an article published Monday by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. “It is one of the world’s safest nuclear reactors, exported globally and producing around 60 per cent of Ontario’s electricity, as well as 40 per cent of New Brunswick’s.”

Istvan says 50 years of nuclear activity has enabled Canada to build a world-class supply chain, particularly in Ontario. This is in addition to the country’s uranium production and technological innovation.

“I witnessed firsthand the sophistication and quality of the nuclear supply chain in Ontario,” Istvan said. “Being particularly impressed by the technical expertise and skilled workers in the industry.”

The Macdonald Laurier Institute is a public policy think tank headquartered in Ottawa.

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Ontario reactor refurbishments strengthen supply chain

Istvan says major reactor refurbishments being completed by Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are notable contributors to the country’s nuclear supply chain. She says this demonstrates that it is firing on all cylinders.

Ontario’s Darlington nuclear site will be home to the country’s first SMRs. They are expected to be powered up before the end of the decade. OPG will construct four GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 small modular reactor units.

“All this activity sets Canada up to leverage first-mover advantage and become a significant global provider of BWRX-300 components,” Istvan said. She says the country will see economic benefits during their construction and through sustained demand for replacement parts in the future.

Canada’s Athabasca Basin, a uranium-rich region in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, has seen unprecedented levels of exploration in recent days. The jurisdiction has benefited the country’s economy for decades. Its resources will not be depleted in the foreseeable future.

New deposits there will need to be developed to meet an ever-increasing demand for uranium. Istvan says the Athabasca Basin is a major advantage for Canada.

“We already export uranium from our incredible reserves in northern Saskatchewan and fabricate unenriched uranium fuel for CANDU,” Istvan said.

Major companies like Cameco Corporation (TSX: CCO) (NYSE: CCJ) and Orano continue to produce large quantities of the commodity there to fulfill increasing requirements. Meanwhile, influential explorers like ATHA Energy Corp. (CSE: SASK) (FRA: X5U) (OTCQB: SASKF) and 92 Energy Limited (ASX: 92E) will conduct surveys and identify new areas with significant uranium mineralization in the Basin for future development.

“Canadian uranium will be an important ingredient in the success and sustainability of a nuclear renaissance, especially for our allies,” Istvan said.

Canada’s nuclear industry contributes about C$17 billion to the country’s gross domestic product each year. In addition, the industry has created over 75,000 jobs. Moreover, the SMRs in Ontario alone have the potential to add over C$15 billion to the nation’s annual GDP, Istvan says.

Six per cent more Canadians want to see increased nuclear power development in the country now than in 2021.


ATHA Energy is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage


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