Production at Springfields near Preston has been badly affected by an announcement that a deal with Cameco and Westinghouse will end early.
Westinghouse and Cameco (one of the world’s largest publicly traded uranium companies) have terminated an agreement with Springfields Fuels Limited to continue to process up to 5 million kilograms of uranium annually at the site.
The ‘toll-conversion’ agreement with Springfields Fuels will end 31 August this year.
A 10 year deal was signed in 2005 for the conversion facility at Springfields to receive uranium trioxide (UO3) from Cameco’s Blind River uranium refinery and converts it to uranium hexafluoride (UF6), which is required to produce nuclear fuel.
The agreement was set to expire in 2016, but weak markets for UF6 conversion means Cameco can meet its customer requirements from its own Port Hope conversion facility in Canada. They have agreed to pay a settlement to Westinghouse for the early termination of the agreement.
An impact on jobs is expected at the site, according to Westinghouse. The facility is to be “placed into stand-by while other options are evaluated”.
Mick Gornall, Managing director of Westinghouse’s UK fuel operations said: “Although this is disappointing news, we have a robust business plan going forward – with uranium recovery, a lifetime AGR fuel contract, PWR fuel and intermediates supply, as well as the prospects of new build in the UK and worldwide.
“We intend to manage the resulting impact through redeployment elsewhere in the business, attrition and voluntary severance.”
Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel is a single-source fuel provider for Pressurized Water Reactors, Boiling Water Reactors and AGRs worldwide. Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel has ten manufacturing locations around the world, including the sole manufacturing site in the UK Springfields Fuels Limited near Preston. Westinghouse is currently fuelling 153 PWR/BWR plants worldwide.
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