On February 4, Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) signed a deal in Paris to jointly develop uranium mines with French nuclear giant Areva SA. The recent deal came after KEPCO's purchase of a 10 percent stake in Areva SA's Imoureren uranium mine (the world's No. 2 uranium mine) in Niger on December 14 of last year, and is expected to give the state-controlled South Korean utility wider access to other Areva-owned uranium projects.
KEPCO's acquisition of a 10 percent stake in the Imoureren mine gives it the right to secure approximately 18,000 tons of uranium. In other words, the Korean utility company will be able to bring in an annual average of 740 tons of uranium for 24 years from 2013 to 2036, which accounts for nearly 15 percent of South Korea's annual uranium consumption, estimated at 5,000 ton (as of 2010).
State-owned Areva SA is the world's fourth largest uranium company that boasts a whole range of nuclear facilities, from the development of uranium mines to nuclear fuel reprocessing. In addition, it has six uranium-producing mines around the world and a good track record in mine development and exploration, and produces 6,500 tons of uranium per year (as of 2009).
In a meeting with AREVA CEO Anne Lauvergeon, KEPCO Chairman and CEO Kim Ssang-soo stated, "KEPCO's goal is to procure up to 50 percent of uranium demand from its own-developed foreign mines by 2020. The latest deal with Areva will help us take a giant step towards achieving this goal."
KEPCO has already acquired a 17 percent stake in Canadian uranium company Denison Mines and is currently involved in two uranium exploration projects in Canada. This year, KEPCO looks to continue to buy uranium mines or mining companies in uranium-rich nations in Africa and Central Asia.