China is said to be building a demonstration commercial reprocessing plant

Hui Zhang

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is reported to have started preparations for what appears to be a demonstration reprocessing plant with a capacity of 200 tonnes/year at Jinta near Jiuquan city of Gansu province. This site is over one hundred kilometer away from China's pilot reprocessing plant (located at Plant 404, the former Jiuquan plutonium production complex), The new demonstration plant is assumed to be based on a scale-up of the pilot plant which has a capacity of 50 tons/year. Works seems to be at a very preliminary site preparation stage.

After the pilot facility at Plant 404 finished its hot test in December 2010, CNNC began to plan a medium-scale demonstration plant. In December 2011, the National Energy Administration (NEA) (under the National Development and Reform Commission, NDRC), issued the 12th five-year energy plan that called for construction of a spent fuel reprocessing demonstration project by 2020. In 2012, CNNC issued the "Long Teng 2020 (Dragon Soars 2020)" technology innovation plan that selected the 200 tonnes/year demonstration plant as one key project. The government eventually approved the demonstration plant in early 2015. According to an account in National Business Daily, in July 2015 CNNC started construction activities at the CNNC Gansu Nuclear Technology Industrial Park. The report suggests that this activity will involve construction of the demonstration reprocessing plant at Jinta of Gansu. It is also said that the entire project will cost about 100 billion RMB (about $16 billion), although it is not clear from the report how much of this would be allocated to the reprocessing facility. CNNC Longrui Co Ltd, established in March 2015, is said to be responsible for the project. While the CNNC Longrui is separate from Plant 404, both share the same CEO.

CNNC also is negotiating with AREVA the purchase of a commercial reprocessing plant (800 tons/year). These talks have moved from establishing the technical specifications for the plant to the stage of commercial negotiations. CNNC Ruineng Co Ltd, established in November 2011, would be responsible for the 800 tonnes/year plant. Unlike the 200 tonnes/year demonstration plant located at remote inland area, the 800 tonnes/year plant could be sited at the east coastal area. According to another report, in July 2015 CNNC Ruineng started working on a preliminary evaluation of the seismic safety at two pre-selected coastal sites for the proposed plant with a spent fuel storage capacity of 6000 tonnes and reprocessing of 800 tonnes/year. The evaluation work is planned to be finished by 30 September 2015.