As per an order from President Putin, the leading Russian nuclear institutions Rosatom and Kurchatov will make a proposal on how to use Thorium while Rosatom will develop a procedure to extract and handle Thorium from Rare Earths production. Is this the beginning of a long term Thorium plan for Russia?
Russia is moving fast to become a global nuclear power leader. The Vice President of Rosatom states that Russian nuclear plants are very welcomed worldwide with more than 90 plants in the pipeline worth some $110 Billion in total. These 90 reactors are just the beginning of Rosatom’s vision to deliver 1000 GW by 2050.
Now in a meeting that took place on the 29 of July, Putin ordered the leading Russian nuclear institutions Kurchatov and Rosatom to:
‘the National Research Centre "Kurchatov Institute" and State Corporation "Rosatom" Atomic Energy will in conjunction make proposals on the prospects of using thorium.’ (Deadline March 1st 2017)
'State Corporation "Rosatom" Nuclear Energy in cooperation with relevant organizations to develop a coordinated position on the procedure for handling of thorium, resulting in the production of rare earth metals.’ (Deadline October 1st 2016)
Kurchatov is the institute behind most of Russia’s reactor designs. A molten-salt reactor research program was started in the second half of the 1970s at the Kurchatov Institute. It covered a wide range of theoretical and experimental studies, particularly the investigation of mechanical, corrosion and radiation properties of the molten salt container materials.
Rosatom is the only vendor in the world able to offer the nuclear industry’s entire range of products and services.
In other words, Rosatom and Kurchatov will make a proposal on how to use Thorium while Rosatom will develop a procedure to extract and handle Thorium from Rare Earths production.
In Russia, the Lovozero mine in Murmansk Oblast has been the country's only rare earth producing mine. A joint venture called TriArkMining was created in 2013 between state-owned Rostec and IST Group, a private company, to acquire and process 82,653t of rare earth concentrate stockpiled for more than 60 years in warehouses of state-owned Uralmonatsit in the Sverdlovsk region. The thorium content of the stockpile is unknown but a usual content is 5% or more which would mean Russia has some 4100t of thorium available above ground. If they can extract and purify it to nuclear concentrations and use it efficiently it is enough to power Russia for many years without any carbon dioxide emissions.
Who will be able to compete with Russia if they can efficiently adopt an affordable and safe Thorium fuel cycle based on modern reactors?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Source (in Russian): President of Russia, Vladimir Putin