NUR-SULTAN – The official opening ceremony of the new Ulba Fuel Assembly plant was held via teleconference from the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk on Nov. 10, reports the Kazatomprom National Atomic Company press service.
Ulba-FA is a Kazakh and Chinese joint venture, the founders of which are UMP (a subsidiary of Kazatomprom) holding a 51 percent stake, and CGNPC-URC (a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Corporation), holding a 49 percent stake.
China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has been cooperating with Kazatomprom in the area of uranium mining, natural uranium sales, and pellet fabrication since 2006. The implementation of this joint fuel project propelled the partnership to a new historic level.
The plant, whose construction began in 2016, is provided with high-tech equipment produced in China, France, Germany and USA to manufacture fuel assemblies, which generate thermal power inside a nuclear reactor.
“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 a great example of successful multilateral cooperation of leading global nuclear companies. The knowledge-intensive production opens up new opportunities for our country to further develop cooperation with other states in the nuclear area,” Mazhit Sharipov, Chief Executive Officer of Kazatomprom noted 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.
The advanced technology of French company Framatome, an international leader in nuclear energy, was selected for FA manufacturing.
Ulba-FA has also received a Framatome certificate, which confirms the plant is authorized for AFA 3GTM manufacturing with a capacity of 200 tons of uranium per year.
All requirements of CGNPC-URC – the guaranteed purchaser of the 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 to the country’s extensive reserves.
The company along with the subsidiary, dependent and joint organizations is developing 26 mines, which are shared among 14 uranium mining enterprises. All these enterprises are located in Kazakhstan.