Areva and Mitsubishi are responding to the increased demand for nuclear energy around the world by creating a nuclear fuel fabrication business.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Areva, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) have signed a shareholders agreement to establish a joint venture company that will develop, design, manufacture and market nuclear fuel.

MHI and Areva have also confirmed that they are planning to jointly invest on a 50-50 basis in a dedicated nuclear fuel fabrication facility to be built in the USA.

The new joint venture company will help to ensure a stable supply of high quality nuclear fuel as the demand for nuclear power increases amid efforts to combat global warming, say the companies.

The joint venture will initially focus on the Japanese market but will also enter overseas markets as an independent supplier of MHI-designed fuel assemblies for PWR plants. It will be established by restructuring the existing Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co. Ltd., which is located in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture, as a comprehensive nuclear fuel fabrication company.

In addition to supplying Japanese customers with fuel assemblies for PWRs, BWRs and high temperature gas cooled reactors, the new company will provide services such as uranium reconversion. It will also manufacture MOX fuel assemblies.