The majority owner of the operator of the Georges Besse 2 uranium enrichment plant in Tricastin, southwest France, has finalized a loan of EUR 650 million over 10 years with a group of 10 banks.

A profile of the project on the AREVA website said that the total 10-year project would cost EUR 3 billion. AREVA said that the ramp-up of the plant, whose construction began in 2006, continues in line with the original schedule, with an installed capacity of 84% as of the end of May 2014. First production began in April 2011; full production capacity is expected to be 7.5 million SWU (separative work units) in 2016.

The centrifuge-based plant replaces the Georges Besse I gaseous diffusion plant.AREVA bought a 50% share of the manufacturer of the centrifuges, Enrichment Technology Company, in 2004. ETC also supplies the same design of centrifuges to competitor URENCO.

AREVA owns 88% of SET (Société d’Enrichissement du Tricastin); other shareholders are GDF Suez (5%), a Japanese consortium of Kansai Electric Power Company and Sojitz Corp (2.5%), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (2.5%), Kyushu Electric Power (1%) and Tohoku Electric Power (1%).

"The fact that several large banks have shown a strong interest in financing the Georges Besse 2 plant demonstrates that they recognize the quality of this industrial project and have confidence in the future of the nuclear market. The innovative nature of this limited recourse financing scheme, applied for the first time to an AREVA nuclear asset, opens up development potential for nuclear activities," declared Luc Oursel, Chief Executive Officer of AREVA.

Photo: Georges Besse II; image copyright AREVA