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Recent developments with links to updated WNA Public Information Service Papers. For previous items from Weekly Digest see archive menu.  

22 August 2014

 New reactor on line in China, its 21st
The first unit of six at Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fujian province has been connected to the grid, becoming the 21st operating power reactor in China. Construction of the 1020 MWe CPR-1000 reactor for China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Huadian Corp (with 45% share) took 69 months, due to delays following the Fukushima accident. Unit 1 started up last month and is expected in commercial operation in November. Three more CPR-1000 reactors are under construction on the site. Fuqing is CNNC’s first plant using its competitor’s (CGN’s) technology.

Fuqing is also China Huadian’s first venture into nuclear power, it being the third of the big five generating companies formed in 2002 to make this move with significant equity. China Power Investment Corp is a major player in building already. China Datang Corp has a 44% share of Ningde nuclear power plant. China Huaneng Group has a 49% stake in Changjiang nuclear plant under construction, and plays a leading role in both the Shidaowan high-temperature reactor project under construction and has six large PWRs planned there, including the first CAP1400 evolved from Westinghouse design. China Guodian Corp is the fifth, so far trailing the field with nuclear development apart from very minor stakes, but set to catch up in the 2020s. The engagement of all five major state corporations, together responsible for over 1100 GWe of generation capacity (similar to US total, 20% more than EU), underlines the importance of nuclear power in China’s future.
WNN 21/8/14. China NP

Poland sets out electricity options for low-carbon future
A long-awaited draft energy policy for Poland has two scenarios, both with nuclear power playing a key role. One has nuclear power supplying 50 TWh/yr by 2035, with renewables 60 TWh. The other has stronger growth in nuclear to 74 TWh/yr, and 49 TWh renewables. Both involve a major shift from lignite and black coal which currently provide 84% of the electricity and most of the air pollution. Consultation on the draft runs to 1 September.

In 2012 Poland generated 162 TWh from its huge lignite and black coal resources plus gas imported from Russia (6 TWh) and some renewables. In 2011 final consumption was 122 billion kWh, or 3160 kWh/yr per capita, one of the lowest levels in Europe. Poland's electricity consumption is forecast to grow by 54% to 2030, but under the EU's strict climate policy targets the country must diversify away from coal. A government report has compared electricity costs, and nuclear power was least-cost at both 85% and 90% capacity factors. Plans are advancing to build 6 GWe of nuclear capacity at two sites by 2035.
WNN 21/8/14. Poland

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Molten salt reactors (new), Energy balances & CO2, Russia nuclear power

8 & 15 August 2014

 Indonesia’s next step towards nuclear power, with Japan
Indonesia’s plans to introduce nuclear power to serve the Java-Bali grid, accounting for three quarters of the country’s electricity demand, have not progressed in the last 20 years. Plans for a small power reactor at Serpong near Jakarta, at the site of the largest research reactor, were announced in December. But now the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has agreed to extend a 2007 cooperation agreement with Indonesia’s National Atomic Energy Agency (BATAN) to include research and development of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTRs). Prior to the introduction of commercial reactors in Indonesia, BATAN plans to build a test and demonstration HTR of about 3-10 MWe. This is with a view to a number of 100 MWe units following in Kalimantan, Sulawesi and islands. Construction of the demonstration unit is expected to take four years, with the start of operation scheduled for 2020. An HTR would have industrial applications as well as power generation.

Since 1998 JAEA has had a prototype gas-cooled reactor, the 30 MWt High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor (HTTR) running at the Oarai Nuclear Hydrogen and Heat Application Research Centre. It is the largest and highest-temperature HTR operating in the world. This year the Japanese government included HTR research in its draft basic energy plan. JAEA has a major agreement with Kazakhstan’s National Nuclear Centre relating to the design, construction and operation of an HTR of about 50 MW at Kurchatov city. It also has HTR research agreements with South Korea and China, and is proposing to build a 100 MW demonstration HTR at Abu Dhabi in the UAE, with Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC), and expedited by the Japan Engineers Federation (JEF).

China is currently leading the world in building a demonstration commercial HTR at Shidaowan, Shandong province, a 210 MWe twin reactor unit. In the USA the Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project to develop, construct and operate a prototype HTR and associated electricity or hydrogen production facilities by 2021. This stalled due to funding cuts, though an NGNP Industry Alliance has selected an Areva HTR design and is trying to take this forward with international sponsorship despite US Administration disinterest.
WNN 5/8/14. Indonesia

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Elect Transmission grids, Processing used fuel, Plutonium, Small reactors, Gen IV reactors, Fast neutron reactors, Kazakhstan

1 August 2014

 BHP Billiton lateral thinking on ore processing for Olympic Dam
Having baulked at the $28 billion cost of a major development of the mine two years ago, BHP Billiton has applied for government approval to build and operate a demonstration-scale heap leaching plant at its Olympic Dam mine, as the company looks for more economical ways of expanding the South Australian project. Heap leaching has not previously been used for uranium ore in Australia (that at Rum Jungle over 1965-71 was for copper), though it is increasingly favoured for low-grade hard-rock uranium ores overseas. Laboratory and pilot scale trials of the technique using run of mill ore from the existing operations have shown promising results to date. The company expects to start construction of the demonstration plant in the second half of 2015, with a three-year trial period starting in late 2016.

Some 36,000 tonnes of ore - about one day's current mine production - will be used in the trial. The ore will be crushed, placed on an impermeable leach pad and treated with sulphuric acid for 300 days. This is expected to recover most of the uranium, and with the help of bacteria, around half of the copper. The uranium would then be removed from the pregnant liquor by solvent extraction, after which the copper would be removed electrolytically. This essentially reverses the present sequence where most of the uranium is recovered by acid leaching the mill tailings after copper sulphide flotation. Following the heap leaching, the depleted ore remaining will be further crushed, ground and put through the flotation plant on site to recover the rest of the copper as sulphide, which would then be smelted as at present for all production.
WNN 31/7/14. Australian U mining

Year of change for Australian uranium production
Olympic Dam provided the only stability in Australia’s uranium mining picture over 2013-14. At ERA’s Ranger mine, a failed leaching tank resulted in no production for the last six months, late in 2013 Uranium One’s Honeymoon ISL mine shut down to await improved uranium prices, and at ISL operations controlled by Heathgate there were other changes. First, production at the main Beverley field, which had been declining markedly, was suspended in December. Then production from Beverley North was suspended in January, to enable concentration on bringing the adjacent Four Mile ISL mine into production, which occurred from the east orebody in April. Heathgate, through a subsidiary Quasar, has farmed in to Alliance Resources’ Four Mile project, leaving it as a minor partner. Uranium recovery is through a satellite plant on the Beverley North lease 2.5 km away, with loaded resin being trucked 10 km to the main Beverly plant for elution and drumming.

Production of U3O8 for the 2013-14 year was 3988 t from Olympic Dam, 1113 t from Ranger, 188 t from Beverley (and N. Beverley), 186 t from Four Mile, and 37 t from Honeymoon, total 5512 t (4674 tU).
Australia's uranium

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Reactor Table, Fast reactors, Reactors for space, Plutonium, Smoke detectors & Am, Safeguards, India China & NPT, Romania, Argentina.