Cameco envisioned as fuel supplier for Polish company’s modular reactor ambitions


The Saskatchewan-based uranium company seeks to be “a supplier of choice” to fuel an emerging industry.

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Cameco has entered into non-binding agreements to supply fuel to X-energy, which wants to design a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) for use in Canada and the United States – and more recently, GE Hitachi and Synthos Green Energy, who are considering a potential purchase of SMR GE Hitachi for use in Poland.

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Cameco spokesperson Jeff Hryhoriw spoke to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix in an email exchange about where the company sees the still emerging SMR industry fit into its future.

Q: What will Cameco’s role be if these agreements come to fruition?

A: At present, there are no small modular reactors (SMRs) in commercial application; some are at advanced stages of development while others are still in the R&D phase. A number of developers are making positive progress in advancing their designs towards commercial readiness, so we think it’s a matter of “when”, not “if”.

Whenever that moment arrives, Cameco intends to be a fuel supplier of choice for the emerging SMR and advanced reactor market, just as we have been and continue to be for large-scale conventional reactors in operation around the world. . We see this as the biggest potential opportunity for our company in the SMR area.

The extent of the business opportunity around SMRs will depend on various factors – for example, which SMR / advanced reactor designs move successfully from development to commercial application, the pace at which they are deployed and built by countries and utilities, the amount of electricity each unit will produce, their fuel stock, their refueling needs, etc.

Q: Does it make sense that SMRs could represent enough demand that more extraction capacity is needed?

A: The amount of uranium consumed by a single SMR reactor would be much less than that of a conventional large-scale reactor. However, as SMRs were deployed in multiples, the total volume of uranium required would increase proportionately. This is where their potential becomes exciting for uranium and nuclear power suppliers like Cameco.

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We believe that the potential growth in uranium fuel demand facilitated by SMRs and advanced reactors could be very positive. However, to reiterate our previous point, we’ll have to see how this market develops from here before we can predict how big or how fast the trade demand opportunity might become or how fast it will unfold. Subsequently to mean in uranium terms the supply of fuel to existing or new mines in northern Saskatchewan and elsewhere.

Q: How do you manage expectations around an industry that is still developing – what will Cameco’s future look like if SMRs don’t end up being widely adopted?

As it stands, the long-term fundamentals of uranium and nuclear power are already pretty strong. In addition to the 443 large-scale conventional reactors in operation in Canada and around the world today, there are currently 51 additional new reactors under construction, representing significant growth in uranium fuel demand. In addition, we believe that nuclear energy will need to play an even greater role in global efforts to simultaneously energize and decarbonize.

So, while we are certainly excited about the potential market expansion represented by SMRs and advanced reactors, we believe that the current growth trajectory of the uranium and nuclear power market is big enough on its own. .

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