Canada to supply Ukraine with uranium fuel for precarious nuclear plants
Ukraine’s nuclear power stations pose the risk of a terrible accident while the war rages on, but a Canadian uranium exporter also sees a profitable opportunity to help keep the besieged country’s lights on.
Canadian mining giant Cameco recently signed a 12-year contract with Ukraine’s state owned energy utility, Energoatom, to supply its nuclear power stations with uranium mined in Saskatchewan.
Ukraine suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident – the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – and faces the potential of a second accident at one of its remaining nuclear stations should it be caught in the crossfire. Its Zaporizhzhia plant is still occupied by Russian forces.
Reuters reports that prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, Ukraine ran its nuclear reactors on Russian fuel, producing 55% of the country’s electricity. Ukraine has since ceased Russian fuel purchases and has turned to Western companies such as Cameco.
“We are proud to play an essential role in helping Ukraine gain supply security for significant components of their nuclear fuel in these extraordinarily challenging times for the country,” Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel said in the news release, reported by CTV.
The company did not disclose the value of the contract, but added, “The agreement will see Cameco supply 100% of Energoatom’s UF6 requirements (consisting of uranium and conversion services) for the nine nuclear reactors at its Rivne, Khmelnytskyy and South Ukraine nuclear power plants for the duration of the contract.”
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, the company added.
- Read “Ukraine’s nuclear deal with Canada’s Cameco carries big risks, rewards,” by Rod Nickel and Pavel Polityuk, published by Reuters on May 5, 2023