Rosatom to Build Nuclear Fuel Plant in Ukraine

Nuclear industry officials from Russia and Ukraine broke ground on a new nuclear fuel manufacturing plant in Ukraine on Thursday.

The $460 million facility is set to provide fuel for all of Ukraine's four nuclear power plants and may eventually supply fuel to unspecified third countries.

Final clearance from regulators will take several months, however, and the plant in Smolino is unlikely to be complete before 2015.

Ukraine holds the controlling 50 percent plus one share in the new plant. TVEL, the fuel-producing subsidiary of Russian nuclear monopoly Rosatom, holds the remaining stake.

The new plant may be followed by a joint venture to build an additional uranium enrichment plant in Russia to guarantee supplies to the fuel plant, the sides said.

Rosatom and Ukraine's state-owned Nuclear Fuel will sign an agreement with Deloitte and Touch for an estimate of assets needed for the future joint venture, Nuclear Fuel general director Tatyana Amosova said.

Ukraine is heavily reliant on nuclear energy, with 15 reactors at four power stations providing about half of its electricity.

It currently receives all its nuclear fuel from Russia. This month Ukraine became the first commercial customer of the Russian-based International Uranium Enrichment Center, which aims to provide a reliable source of enriched uranium used to make nuclear fuel to countries without their own enrichment capacities.

Rosatom is pursuing nuclear construction projects in several Eastern European countries, including a planned nuclear plant in Belarus.

Last month Rosatom filed a one billion euro ($1.3 billion) claim against Bulgaria's National Electricity company for completed work on a canceled nuclear power plant project on the Danube.

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