French nuclear power company New Areva has taken a step closer to the construction of a €10 billion reprocessing plant in China after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).
Although not yet legally binding, the MoU provides assurance of a contract for the development and paves the way for the construction of a project which has been negotiated for more than 10 years.
The agreement was signed in Beijing during a state visit by France’s President Emmanuel Macron, with China’s President Xi Jinpeng also in attendance.
“We have the assurance of a contract [for the reprocessing plant] with a deadline and a signature in the spring, and this will save the industry,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
Areva has struggled in recent years and was bailed out by the French state in 2017 after years of losses wiped out its equity. Therefore, the agreement represents a light at the end of the tunnel for the firm.
Philippe Knoche, chief executive of Areva said: “CNNC and New Areva have stepped up their efforts to reach agreement on the contract and we are seeing today very positive results.
“I am looking forward to finalising the negotiations soon, and starting the implementation of this landmark project with our partner CNNC in 2018.”
Construction work could begin in 2020 ahead of a commissioning of the plant in 2030.