By Samantha James

THE Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has welcomed Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop’s announcement that she will sign a cooperation agreement to supply uranium to Ukraine for use in power generation at the fourth global Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC.

In a statement Ms Bishop said the contract with the Ukraine would “complement similar agreements Australia has with countries including Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, the UK and the US” and assist in maintaining strong international cooperation on nuclear security.

MCA executive director of uranium Daniel Zavattiero said in a statement that the agreement would offer Ukraine additional diversity of uranium supply, and Australia access to an important and growing market.

“This development is another important step in responsibly growing Australia’s market access for uranium exports,” he said.

“[The agreement] will add Ukraine to the list of countries who have signed bilateral agreements with Australia committing them to use Australia-sourced uranium solely for peaceful purposes.

“Ukraine has been and continues to be an important nuclear power generating country.”

Ukraine has 15 reactors generating half of its electricity. The government was planning to maintain nuclear share in electricity production to 2030, which would require new reactors to be built.

A joint report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ‘s (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2013 stated Ukraine would increase its nuclear generating capacity to between 24.7 gigawatts of electricity (GWe) and 29 GWe by 2035.

This would see its uranium requirements rise to an estimated maximum of 5300t per annum by 2035.

“Access to growing Ukrainian uranium demand creates opportunities for more tonnes, more exports, and more jobs in mine construction and operations,” Mr Zavattiero said.

The Nuclear Security Summit provides a forum for leaders to engage with each other and reinforce the commitment at the highest levels to securing nuclear materials.