09/22/2009, 00.00
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China to build its first foreign nuclear plant

China’s nuclear industry is asserting itself by building nuclear power plants as alternatives to polluting coal-powered ones. Its firms are exploring and developing uranium deposits around the world and exporting made-in-China technology.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. (CGNPC) will be the first Chinese company to build a nuclear plant outside the borders of the mainland, said Xiang Weidong, director of overseas business at CGNPC Uranium Resources, the firm's sourcing, exploration and production unit. He made the announcement on the sidelines of the CBI China Nuclear Power Leadership Summit on Friday

Xiang did not say where the new plant would be built, but the company’s website stated that the company signed a letter of intent just over a year ago with Belarus to co-operate in the nuclear power field. Last October that Belarus had invited foreign nuclear power plant construction firms, including the GGNPC, to tender for a plant to be completed between 2016 and 2018.

The company is one of two state-owned firms that dominate the mainland's nuclear power generation sector. It is currently building 12 reactors with a total capacity of 12GW in Guangdong, Liaoning and Fujian provinces, with two more in Guangdong in the pipeline.

The company has about 4GW of plants in operation in Guangdong; the installed capacity is projected to reach 34GW by 2020.

China is making a huge effort to increase its nuclear energy production capacity as an alternative to polluting coal-powered plants, and it is considering raising its 2020 installed nuclear power capacity target to more than 70GW, up from 40GW set in 2005.

For this reason, the CGNPC has been scouring the world for uranium supplies. Last December, the company's sourcing unit formed a joint venture called Semizbay Uranium with Kazakhstan's state-owned uranium producer Kazatomprom, which controls the Central Asian nation’s rich uranium deposits.

The venture's output is expected to be 550 tonnes this year, rising to 1,100 tonnes next year and 1,450 tonnes in 2011. All of it will be used in CGNPC's mainland plants.

The mainland's uranium demand for this year is estimated to be 2,000 tonnes.

CGNPC has signed other deals with Uzbekistan and Australian companies to explore and develop uranium deposits in those countries.

It already has deals with traders and miners such as France's Areva, the United States' Nukem and Australia's Paladin.

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