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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


Ontario Power Generation initiates uranium fuel contracts for North America’s first SMR

Cameco, Orano, Urenco USA and the General Electric-led joint venture Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas LLC were selected

Ontario Power Generation initiates uranium fuel contracts for North America's first SMR
Representatives from the companies receiving the new contracts at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris, France. Photo via Cameco Corporation

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has chosen four fuel suppliers for North America’s first small modular reactor, an advanced nuclear power unit expected to come online in 2029.

On Wednesday, the Crown utility company announced that it contracted Saskatchewan’s Cameco Corporation (TSX: CCO) (NYSE: CCJ), the French company Orano, New Mexico’s Urenco USA and the General Electric Co (NYSE: GE)-led joint venture Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas LLC.

Currently, there are only a handful of small nuclear reactors operating in the entire world. They are located in Russia, China, Pakistan and India, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Cameco will supply OPG with uranium hexafluoride needed for reactor fuel from its conversion facility in Port Hope, Ontario. The company’s Cigar Lake mine, situated in Saskatchewan’s section of the Athabasca Basin, is the highest-grade uranium operation on Earth.

Urenco will provide uranium enrichment services from its facility in New Mexico, which it says is the only operational commercial enrichment plant in the country. The facility has 64 cascades used for enriching the metal and has been in operation since 2010.

Orano will contribute enriched uranium products from its operations in France. The company currently operates uranium mines in Kazakhstan, Canada and Niger.

General Electric is responsible for designing the SMR requiring fuel from these companies that will be used at Ontario’s Darlington nuclear site. The joint venture GE leads will provide fuel fabrication, necessary technical services and fuel assemblies. Saskatchewan also plans to use the reactor, with construction of the province’s first beginning as early as 2030.

Read more: ATHA Energy defines 18 high-priority prospective mining targets after EM survey

Read more: ATHA Energy aerial surveys over Athabasca Basin reveal strong potential for uranium

Darlington SMR fleet to increase Ontario’s GDP by $13.7B

A study from the Conference Board of Canada found that the construction and operation of the four SMRs at Ontario’s Darlington nuclear site would increase the province’s gross domestic product by $13.7 billion and sustain about 2,000 jobs annually.

The first reactor is expected to be completed by 2028 before being powered up the following year. Nuclear power currently provides approximately 50 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.

“With construction on the first unit scheduled to be completed in 2028, I’m pleased to see OPG reach this important agreement with Cameco, Urenco, Orano and Global Nuclear Fuel to use Saskatchewan uranium, enriched by our allies in the U.S. and France, to power the unit when it turns on,” said Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith.

In recent days, the growing demand for uranium linked to a supply shortage, an increased rate of reactor construction and climate goals has drawn an increased rate of attention to Saskatchewan’s reserves of the radioactive element.

After a rigorous assessment, the provincial government granted NexGen Energy Ltd. (TSX: NXE) (NYSE: NXE) full environmental authorization for its Rook I uranium project in the Athabasca Basin earlier this month. The province had not authorized a project like this for over two decades and the company aims to develop it into one of the world’s top uranium assets.

Companies like Vancouver’s ATHA Energy Corp. (CSE: SASK) (FRA: X5U) (OTCQB: SASKF) have been completing major surveys in the province to identify deposits of the commodity. The company is currently processing large troves of data from a large-scale electromagnetic survey it completed in the Basin earlier this year requiring seven helicopters to work simultaneously.

Saskatchewan’s vast uranium reserves in a top mining jurisdiction have been attracting significant interest from international mining companies too. The United Kingdom’s Fulcrum Metals plc (LON: FMET) just expanded its land package in the Athabasca Basin by over 200 per cent and now has a vast land package spanning over 59,000 hectares.

“The staking and option agreements provide Fulcrum with a significant and highly prospective footprint with a critical mass of strategic uranium assets in Saskatchewan, one of the best jurisdictions globally for uranium,” said Fulcrum’s CEO Ryan Mee.


ATHA Energy is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage 


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Alioune mbengue

    December 11, 2023 at 4:16 am

    Bonjour monsieur je vous prie Monsieur le directeur général mes salutations les plus distinguées

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