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December 20, 2010

Germany may restart the Krümmel and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants and Russian Uranium plans

1. A sweeping review of operations for Krümmel and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants is to start, with the aim of rapidly bringing them back into service.

Both are boiling water reactors with capacities of 1260 MWe and 771 MWe respectively. A review by the companies follows changes in Germany's energy laws enacted this year, under which Brunsbüttel and Krümmel and can expect to operate until 2018 and 2030 respectively. These dates represent an addition nine years of operation for Brunsbüttel and 14 years for Krümmel compared to dates originally slated in 2001 after the 'nuclear exit law'.



The units have been offline for some time, Brunsbüttel having shut down in 2007 following a grid-facilitated trip, and Krümmel after a transformer fault following an earlier transformer fire also in 2007. Under the previous shutdown schedule there was little incentive to bring reactors back online swiftly because more generation used up their allowances more quickly and hastened final shutdown.

The extension of operational limits on German nuclear plants came with a hefty tax of €145 per gram of uranium or plutonium set to net the government some €2.3 billion per year. This is causing German utilities to reconsider their operating regimes, possibly away from the baseload role to follow demand curves instead. All German plants were built to have load-following capability and can moderate output by a few percent per minute. This practice, however, comes with operational issues such as potential uneven burning of nuclear fuel in the core and additional stresses on some components.

2. Rosatom Corp.’s ARMZ Uranium Holding plans to become the world’s second-largest uranium miner, after Kazatomprom, as it expands into more territories. It already has 6,000 metric tons of proven uranium reserves in Namibia, and said in May it’s ready to invest $1 billion in the African country.

* Aus$1.16 billion ($1.15 billion) Mantra deal gives ARMZ access to the Mkuju River uranium project in Tanzania.

* Uranium One’s Honeymoon mine in Australia, a venture with Mitsui & Co., will start in the first quarter of 2011, earlier than planned, Zhivov said.

* In Mongolia, ARMZ agreed this week to form a joint venture to develop the country’s biggest untapped uranium field, the Dornod resource.

The product output of the Russian-Mongolian uranium mining joint venture is planned at 2,000 tons per year.

3. BHP Billiton which runs the Olympic dam uranium mine in Australia reported quarterly production. They are in track for about 2900 tons of Uranium oxide concentrate this year.

First quarter 89 tons
Second quarter 712 tons
Third quarter 1010 tons
Fourth Quarter est 1100 tons

Australia top uranium mines are Ranger, Olympic Dam and Beverly

Ranger mine production was 2638 tons for the first 9 months of 2010. The mined ore grade in the September quarter being lower than expected, ERA now anticipates 2010 uranium oxide production to be in the vicinity of 3,900 tonnes, down from 4,300 to 4,700 tonnes as previously communicated.

Calendar year 2009 production: 5240 t from Ranger, 3485 t from Olympic Dam, 688 t from Beverley, total 9413 tonnes (7982 tU).

Austrilia's uranium production for 2010 will be down close to 2000 tU from 2009.

4. Namibia's uranium production is up

Namibia's Uranium production improved by 9.9 percent during the second quarter of 2010 compared to the preceding quarter. Similarly, year-on-year, it rose by 17.7 percent.

Paladin aims to double uranium oxide output to almost 14 million pounds by 2016 from 7 million pounds in the year ending in June 2011.

Paladin operates the Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia and the Kayelekera project in Malawi.

LANGER Heinrich announced expansion plans of US$350 million, nearly N$2,6 billion, to increase uranium oxide production from the current 3,7 million pounds per year to about 10 million pounds per year by 2014.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy expects a project to expand capacity at the Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia to 5.2-million pounds a year will reach mechanical completion and be ready for commissioning early next year, the firm said on Friday.

The project represents the third stage of production growth at Langer Heinrich, which produced 900 000 lb in the September quarter (2010), an increase of 38% compared with the same period of 2009, but lower than in the June quarter this year

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