Kazakhstan launches fuel production for nuclear power plants and encourages partnership with Chinese General Nuclear Power Corporation

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NUR-SULTAN – The official opening ceremony of the new Ulba fuel assembly plant was held by teleconference from the Ulba metallurgical plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk on November 10, reports the press service of the Kazatomprom National Atomic Company.

NAC Kazatomprom JSC has the largest uranium reserve base in the industry. Photo credit: kazatomprom.kz

Ulba-FA is a Kazakh and Chinese joint venture whose founders are UMP (subsidiary of Kazatomprom) holding 51% of the capital, and CGNPC-URC (subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Corporation), holding 49%.

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has been cooperating with Kazatomprom in uranium mining, natural uranium sales and pellet manufacturing since 2006. The implementation of this common fuel project has propelled the partnership on a new historic level.

The plant, whose construction began in 2016, is equipped with high-tech equipment produced in China, France, Germany and the United States to manufacture fuel assemblies, which generate thermal energy at the interior of a nuclear reactor.

A single FA consists of 264 fuel rods, which are long metal rods loaded with uranium fuel pellets. Photo credit: kazatomprom.kz

“The establishment of this innovative production will allow Kazakhstan to enter the small circle of states manufacturing and supplying nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants. The project is an excellent example of successful multilateral cooperation between the world’s major nuclear companies. Knowledge-intensive production opens up new opportunities for our country to further develop cooperation with other states in the nuclear field, ”noted Mazhit Sharipov, Managing Director of Kazatomprom in his speech.

A single FA consists of 264 fuel rods, which are long metal rods loaded with uranium fuel pellets. They are manufactured by the Ulba Metallurgical Plant.

State-of-the-art technology from the French company Framatome, an international leader in nuclear energy, has been selected for the manufacture of the AF.

Mazhit Sharipov, Chairman and CEO of NAC Kazatomprom JSC, delivered the speech at the ceremony. Photo credit: kazatomprom.kz

Ulba-FA has also received a Framatome certificate, which confirms that the plant is authorized to manufacture the AFA 3GTM with a capacity of 200 tonnes of uranium per year.

All the requirements of CGNPC-URC – the guaranteed purchaser of fuel assemblies – have been met. Eventually, the plant became a certified supplier for the Chinese nuclear industry.

Kazatomprom is the national operator in Kazakhstan for the import and export of uranium, rare metals and nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants, which has priority rights over the country’s vast reserves.

The company as well as its subsidiary, dependent and joint organizations develop 26 mines, which are shared between 14 uranium mining companies. All of these companies are located in Kazakhstan.


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