In 2013, Areva and CNNC had signed a letter of intent to build a used fuel treatment and recycling facility in the Asian country.

Areva said that the latest agreement reaffirms its commitment with the Chinese partner to complete the contract negotiations for the Chinese commercial used fuel treatment-recycling plant project.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was quoted by Reuters as saying: “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. It is worth €10bn.”

The Chinese treatment-recycling plant, which will have a reprocessing capacity of 800 ton of spent nuclear fuel from Chinese power plants annually, is planned to be built on the model of New Areva's two existing plants, La Hague and Melox, both located in France.

New Areva CEO Philippe Knoche 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 finalizing the negotiations soon, and starting the implementation of this landmark project with our partner CNNC in 2018.”

The facility will be equipped with most advanced recycling technologies to process used nuclear fuel to recover the reusable materials and recycle them as fuel.

Additionally, the facility is expected to provide guarantees in terms of safety, security, and for the environment.

A final deal on the facility is expected to provide much needed boost to the French nuclear industry, which has been struggling to gain new contracts since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

Image: Areva headquarters in Courbevoie, France. Photo: courtesy of Olivier Passalacqua/Wikipedia.