NEW YORK, Nov 7 (Reuters) - French nuclear company Areva CEPFi.PA is considering reopening uranium mines in the United States because of high prices for the nuclear reactor fuel, Chief Executive Anne Lauvergeon said on Wednesday.
“Now with the uranium price we are contemplating reopening of these,” Lauvergeon told reporters at a French-American Foundation reception, referring to mines closed in the 1990s.
Spot uranium prices reached $90 per pound this week, and many market experts expect that to reach $120 in the coming months, or about 7 times its price in 2001.
Lauvergeon declined to speculate on whether uranium prices would remain at those levels, since new supplies were expected to come onto the market due to rising demand for the fuel.
A uranium price of $30 to $35 per pound would need to be sustained to justify the reopenings, she added.
Aveva was also considering building a reprocessing and recycling facility for spent fuel in the United States, Lauvergeon said, and was considering several possible sites, including in New Mexico and Ohio.
President George W. Bush has proposed overturning a decades-old U.S. ban on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
Aveva is also awaiting U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval for its Evolutionary Power Reactor, which is needed for U.S. use of the new-generation plant design.
U.S. power companies are expected to file nearly two dozen applications in the coming years to add to the country’s 104 existing nuclear power reactors.
Lauvergeon said the process with the NRC was continuing, but declined to comment on when approval could be granted.
Utilities Constellation Energy CEG.N and Ameren AEE.N have said they were interested in Evolutionary Power Reactors. Areva has hired more than 1,000 engineers and technicians in the United States alone to deal with the increased business. (Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Braden Reddall)
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