French nuclear fuel company Orano is exploring the possibility of constructing a uranium enrichment facility in the US, Reuters has reported.  

The move comes as the US aims to lessen its dependence on Russian fuel imports.

The state-owned company, formerly known as Areva, previously planned to build a facility in Idaho but stopped the project after the Japanese Fukushima disaster in 2011 impacted global nuclear prospects.

The idea of establishing a uranium enrichment facility in the US has now been revived, Orano chairman Claude Imauven has stated.

Speaking at an event organised by think tank Confrontations Europe, Reuters quoted him as saying: “It is a topic that was studied in the past by Areva and is now being studied by Orano.”

In October 2023, the company announced its intention to expand production at its enrichment facility in southern France, primarily to serve its US customers.

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The expansion is part of efforts to mitigate supply risks from Russia’s Rosatom, which supplies 30% of the enriched uranium in the West.

US-based Centrus Energy recently initiated operations at a new facility in Ohio to produce high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which is essential for advanced nuclear reactors.

US President Joe Biden has authorised $2.7bn for domestic fuel production, including HALEU projects.

Orano operates uranium mines in Canada, Kazakhstan and Niger and runs a fuel enrichment site in France, contributing 12% of global capacity.

The company recently secured a deal with Czech utility ČEZ to provide uranium enrichment services for the Dukovany nuclear power plant. The agreement was signed on a visit to the Czech Republic by French President Emmanuel Macron.