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October 07, 2011

Small nuclear reactors for power and icebreaking and Canadian Cigar Lake Uranium

1. Russia's commitment to civil marine nuclear power is growing. Power units for three new icebreakers are seen as the forerunners of a small reactor design for next-generation floating nuclear power plants.

The new reactor model will be based around the RITM-200 pressurized water reactor, a design developed by OKBM Afrikantov that integrates some main components into the reactor vessel and produces 55 MWe for the motor-driven propellor. The same design is foreseen as being incorporated in floating power plants. It would operate on fuel enriched to less than 20% uranium-235 and require refuelling every seven years over a 40-year lifespan.

"This is a fundamentally new nuclear power unit," said Kiriyenko, "By creating such a set-up for a new type of icebreaker, we are working on parallel technology for next-generation floating nuclear power plants."


The newest icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory, launched in 2007 (RosAtomFlot)




Currently the first mobile small-reactor power plant in the world is being constructed in Saint Petersburg. The Akademik Lomonosov will use two KLT-40S reactors to produce a total of 70 MWe for Vilyuchinsk, in the Kamchatka region in Russia's far east. Later units based on the RITM-200 would feature one reactor and produce 55 MWe.

2. All uranium ore extracted at Canada's forthcoming Cigar Lake mine will now be milled at McClean Lake, in a change that project leader Cameco said will increase profitability for the mine. Cigar Lake is slated to begin production in mid-2013.

Once up and running, Cigar Lake is expected to produce 18 million pounds of uranium annually, half of it belonging to Cameco, which owns 50 per cent of the project. The company aims to double its uranium production by 2018.

The Cigar Lake deposit has proven and probable reserves of more than 209.3 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 17.04% (Cameco's share is 104.7 million pounds)

So it has very high purity ore and is one of the largest uranium deposits. Cigar Lake had a flooding problem which delayed the mines development for a number of years.


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