Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan

From Nuclear Street News

Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan

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Tue, Nov 12 2013 10:27 AM
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Canada plans to enter a civilian nuclear agreement with Kazakhstan, home to 12 percent of the world’s uranium deposits and an ambitious fuel cycle industry.

Azerbaijani newspaper AzerNews reported Monday that the agreement will be signed in Kazakhstan during a first-ever visit by Canada’s foreign minister this week. Agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy between nations typically lay out diplomatic expectations regarding nonproliferation, nuclear safety and other issues. They often precede additional treaties and agreements that lead to trade in nuclear technology and services.

Next year, Canada’s Cameco will begin a feasibility study on a 6,000-tonne-per-year uranium conversion facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, according to the World Nuclear Association. The company also owns 60 percent of Kazakhstan’s Inkai uranium mine. Pending the study’s findings, a joint venture between Cameco and state-controlled Kazatomprom could begin construction of the conversion equipment in 2018.

Kazakhstan holds the world’s second largest uranium reserves, AzerNews reported. The country’s mines accounted for more than 36 percent of the word’s uranium production in 2012, according to the WNA. Kazakhstan also signed an agreement with Areva in 2008 to build a new fuel fabrication facility at Ulba. Bolstered by demand from China’s rapidly expanding reactor fleet, Kazatomprom aims to supply up to one-third of the world’s fuel fabrication market by 2030.

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Canadian Nuke Company Connected to Kazakh Investigation

Oops!  A nuker lost his job as head honcho at Kazatomprom, a state-owned nuke company in Kazakhstan.  And there’s a Canuckian connection:

Dzhakishev went on trial in January, charged with stealing 99.8 million tenge (about $679,000) during the opening of the Kazatomprom’s representative office in Vienna. He was ousted as head of the company last May and later arrested on suspicion of embezzling state shares in uranium deposits, including one co- owned by Canada’s Uranium One Inc., by transferring them to offshore companies. An investigation into the charge continues.

It’s an interesting case, to be sure.   A series of YouTube vids were investigated.

Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor General’s Office in November ordered a probe into video clips posted on YouTube of Dzhakishev answering investigators’ questions. In the clips, Dzhakishev says his removal from Kazatomprom facilitated an alleged Russian strategy to block the company’s plan to supply nuclear fuel to Japan, consigning Kazakhstan to the role of a supplier of raw materials.

I don’t speak the language so we’ll have to go with the translation suggested in these articles.

Dzhakishev will spend 14 years in jail, but Mr. Google’s not revealing a thing about the allegations he made regarding the Ruskies’ strategy.   Dear Reader, please let me know if you find any more about it.

A stream of nuke news

Grab a coffee or tea.  Find a snack.  Lots of linky news today so this could take a while!

First up:  A Calgary nuke company, Kirrin Resources, is not going to expand its exploration for uranium in Quebec.  That’s good news for Quebec’s citizens.  Not so good for Saskatchewan though.  A few days ago, the company said they’re moving into Saskatchewan.

Kirrin Resources Inc. said it will enter into a 70-30 joint venture with Majesta Resources Inc. on the 36,287-hectare Key Lake Southwest property after agreeing to a deal worth roughly $3.3 million.

Next? A guy who thinks he knows something about nuclear reactors because he once worked at one, is now a nuke promoter.  Read it and weep.

The IFR uses higher energy neutrons — “fast” neutrons — to cause the fuel atoms to split and release their energy. This particular kind of fast reactor can use all the various isotopes of uranium in its fuel load. Therefore, costly enrichment procedures are not needed to make reactor fuel. This reactor also can use the various trans-uranic elements as fuel. This is important. All of the extremely long-lived fission byproducts of pressurized water reactors just happen to be fuel material for this fast neutron reactor.

The non-usable material in used-up IFR fuel has a half life of about 500 years. This is still a long period of time but much more manageable than a period of billions of years. Further, the volume or mass of this material will be considerably less.

It gets better.

Better?  Ya, right!  Where do they find these guys?  How much do they pay them?

More newsHuffPo points to a Mother Jones piece questioning Obama’s recent support for the nuke industry.

The Obama administration has embarked on a high-stakes gamble: devoting billions of dollars to an expansion of nuclear power in the hope of winning Republican votes for a climate bill. But in its eagerness to drum up bipartisan support for one of the hardest sells on Obama’s policy agenda, is the administration turning a blind eye to the financial risk?

Bradford, the former nuclear regulator, observes that if the Georgia reactors alone defaulted, taxpayers could be left with a bill of as much as $8.3 billion. “If the Tea Party folks ever figure that out, the [DOE] building is going to be three floors deep in tea bags,” he says. “This administration desperately needs someone to point out that this emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”

Citizens in the USA ain’t necessarily buying Obama’s nuke dreams.  A US blogger, Greenhoof, calls Obama’s nuke promotion a “greenwashing.” That’s a good word, one I need to consider using more often.  S/he tells it like it is:

President Obama has justified his proposed $55 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors by misrepresenting nuclear reactors as the largest “carbon-free” energy source in the United States.  That’s like saying McDonald’s should be put in charge of a nationwide obesity campaign because it’s the largest restaurant in the U.S. that sells salads.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants.  In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits.  This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

More stuff:  Here’s a little tidbit from Australia, another uranium-producing nation with a strong no-nukes movement.

James Neal Blue who helped devise the Predator unmanned aircraft that are in use in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is the director of a company that bought the Four Mile uranium mine in Australia. Blue is the chairman of Quasar Resources, which is affiliated with General Atomics, a major United States weapons and nuclear energy corporation. General Atomics reportedly holds $700 million in Pentagon contracts. The Four Mile mine is located next to the Beverly Uranium mine, with is owned by another affiliate of General Atomics.

I guess all those pro-nukers like to play in one big tub, eh?  Here’s more on that Ozzie deal.

More CA news:  A Canadian reporter did the math on the Canadian government’s contribution to the nuclear industry and it’s not good!  “Over two years, we’re talking more than $1.1 billion” being spent, about half of it going to the AECL.  Remember the Chalk River Fiasco?

Oy!

Finally, this, from Kazakhstan:

Leading energy and mining firms from Russia, China, Japan, France and Canada have already invested billions here. Kazakhstan, meanwhile, is seeking to leverage its ore into a larger role in the global nuclear industry and has taken a stake in the U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse.

Only the nation’s fledgling environmental movement has dared object, pointing out that Kazakhstan has yet to recover from its days as the Soviet Union’s main atomic test site.

The Soviets conducted 456 nuclear blasts in northeastern Kazakhstan, more than anyone else anywhere in the world. Much of the region remains contaminated, residents suffer elevated rates of cancer and other radiation-related illnesses, and babies continue to be born with deformities.

“Nothing good can come of the world’s push for nuclear energy, and we should understand this better because of our past,” said Mels Eleusizov, a veteran environmentalist who complains that the uranium industry is shrouded in secrecy, with no independent monitoring.

Indeed, nothing good can come from nukes and nukers, no matter how you wash it.

Sorry for the length.  Lots going on these days…