Canadian uranium firm Cameco’s interest in a partnership developing third generation uranium enrichment technology has climbed to 49% with an option to attain a majority interest of up to 75%.
Previously, the company had a 24% stake in Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), which is the exclusive licensee of the proprietary Silex laser enrichment technology.
“We are pleased to play a growing role with Silex in the GLE partnership and to support GLE’s advancement of Silex laser enrichment technology,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel.
“While there are still a number of development milestones before this technology could be commercialised, we believe it has excellent potential to expand Cameco’s reach in the nuclear fuel cycle in the future, building on the existing world-class assets and capabilities we already possess in uranium production, refining, conversion and fuel fabrication.”
Subject to completion of the technology development programme, and its progression through to commercialisation, Cameco says GLE stands poised to offer a variety of advantages to the global nuclear energy sector over the long term, at a pace determined by market fundamentals.
GLE has an agreement with the US Department of Energy to re-enrich depleted uranium tails left over as a by-product of previous-generation enrichment technologies, repurposing legacy waste into uranium and conversion products to fuel nuclear reactors and aiding in the responsible clean-up of enrichment facilities no longer in operation.
It will also produce high-assay low-enriched uranium, the primary fuel stock for the majority of small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor designs that are proceeding through the development stage and continuing their march toward commercial readiness.
The technology will further produce low-enriched uranium fuel with greater efficiency and flexibility than current enrichment technologies.
“Nuclear power plays a massive role in the global clean energy equation,” Gitzel said. “That role will only increase in a carbon constrained world, particularly with the momentum behind SMR and advanced reactor technologies, a focus on the electrification of transportation systems, and the many other innovations that countries and companies are counting on to help meet their emission reduction targets.
“Cameco is committed to responsibly and sustainably managing our business and increasing our contributions to global climate change solutions,” Gitzel said. “Our investment in GLE aligns well with these objectives.”