One of the international players best positioned to ride the wave of the new nuclear power plant building surge is Areva, operating from France, where 75% of the country's power is nuclear-generated and which is the global leader in electricity exports, for which the country earns around $4.8 billion per year.Areva is forging alliances and reinforcing its complete nuclear supply chain through uranium mining and fuel refining to nuclear plant manufacture and construction.
Currently, the company is following through on a memorandum of understanding it signed at the end of 2007 with Russia's leading uranium mining company, state-owned Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ). A joint venture between the companies is under consideration for uranium prospecting and mining in promising areas of Russia and Africa, the Russian company reported.
In addition to the Areva connection, ARMZ has also established partner relations with Japan's Mitsui & Company Limited for investment in uranium prospecting and mining. It is also developing cooperation in geological prospecting and the development of uranium prospects in promising areas with South Korea's LG International Corporation.
Areva will be following the progress of ARMZ in its uranium based joint ventures in Kazakhstan and the of the development potential of uranium deposits in Ukraine. In Africa, the company has an agreement with Russia's second largest bank, Bank VTB OAO to start uranium prospecting in Namibia. The Russian company produced 3,413 tons of uranium in 2007, representing a 7% rise from 2006 and has a production target of 3,880 tons for 2008.
In France, Areva has launched a joint $112 million investment program with the world's largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, to raise ingot production capacity at Industeel's Le Creusot plant in Burgundy for the forging of nuclear components such as nuclear reactor vessels and steam generators.
Currently, 80% of the component requirements for the new generation Areva electrical output pressurized water reactor can be made at Le Creusot, and in the next production phase 100% component production is targeted, raising ingot production from 35,000 tons to 50,000 tons per year by 2010.