TerraPower partners with UEC for uranium supply

November 30, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Irigaray central processing plant, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. (Photo: Uranium Energy)

TerraPower and Uranium Energy announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to “explore the potential supply of uranium” for TerraPower’s demonstration reactor in Kemmerer, Wyo.

The undeniable need for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) enrichment and deconversion facilities has monopolized the nuclear fuel cycle conversation lately. But without a natural uranium input there can be no sustainable, commercial fuel cycle, and U.S. uranium producers have been waiting for market signals (and federal support) to trigger a restart of production facilities that in some cases have been on standby for years.

Uranium Energy—headquartered in Corpus Christi, Texas—holds extensive uranium resources in Wyoming that could be a source of uranium that ultimately fuels Natrium, a 345-MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor paired with a molten salt energy storage system that can boost power output to 500 MWe to serve peak demand.

Company assets: Uranium Energy’s U.S. portfolio includes more than 20 uranium projects in Wyoming, four of which are located in the Powder River Basin—where the company is planning to restart production first—and fully permitted for in situ recovery (ISR) production. Those assets include the Christensen Ranch ISR facilities and the nearby Irigaray ISR facility and central processing plant in Johnson County, Wyo.

The Irigaray plant serves as a Wyoming “hub” to which uranium—first dissolved underground from its sandstone host, pumped to the surface, then concentrated on resin beads—can be trucked from surrounding ISR facilities. Uranium Energy holds a similar ISR “hub and spoke” platform in South Texas and also boasts “one of the largest physical uranium portfolios of U.S. warehoused U3O8” and holds high-grade conventional uranium mining projects in Canada.

Acclaim from stakeholders: Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon stated, “This MOU is a great step forward for the Wyoming uranium industry, which is host to the largest uranium reserves in the United States. It makes no sense to depend on Russian uranium and enrichment technology when a fully domestic fuel source can be found here in Wyoming and manufactured in the United States. TerraPower chose Wyoming as a partner for their Natrium advanced nuclear reactor plant. Once again, they are demonstrating leadership and commitment to a nuclear future in Wyoming through this MOU with Uranium Energy Corp.”

For his part, TerraPower president and chief executive officer Chris Levesque said, “TerraPower continues to move forward in bringing the Natrium reactor to market, and that includes establishing our fuel supply chain. A robust, domestic supply chain for nuclear fuel is crucial as we deploy the next generation of nuclear energy. Wyoming has long been a leader in uranium mining, and we look forward to collaborating with [Uranium Energy] on the potential opportunity for Wyoming uranium to fuel our first reactor.”

Amir Adnani, Uranium Energy president and CEO, stated that the company “is pleased to form strategic relationships that support the emerging uranium demand from [small modular reactors] and [advanced reactors], and we look forward to working with TerraPower and the prospect of providing the uranium they need to operate their Wyoming Natrium reactor.”

Related Articles