December 5, 2014 / 10:26 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-China General Nuclear's uranium unit chief says looking to invest in Canada

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BEIJING, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The uranium subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), one of the country’s two state reactor builders, is looking to invest in mines in Canada “in the near future”, a top official with the firm said on Friday.

Zhou Zhenxing, the chairman of CGN Uranium Resources, told an industry conference that the firm had already secured uranium projects in all other major producing nations, including Namibia, Kazakhstan and Australia, and was now focusing its efforts on Canada.

“Canada’s uranium reserves are among the largest in the world and we hope to cooperate with Canadian enterprises to complete the mission,” he said.

Zhou said he had already been involved in discussions with Canadian officials, but gave no additional details.

CGN is the state-owned parent of CGN Power Co. Ltd , which raised around $3.2 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong this week.

Officials said on Thursday that China’s state-owned assets regulator was currently considering proposals to merge CGN with its rival, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

China is in the middle of a huge reactor building programme, and aims to raise capacity to 58 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. Chinese think tanks estimate that capacity could rise further to 200 GW by 2030, from around 19 GW now.

The World Nuclear Association has estimated that annual Chinese demand for primary uranium will rise tenfold by 2030, which would put it at around 40,000 tonnes.

With around three quarters of its uranium demand already sourced from overseas, China’s major nuclear firms have been busy securing supplies across the globe, and they have also stepped up exploration efforts at home.

Since China is also dependent on overseas firms to turn much of its uranium supply into usable fuel, CGN and CNNC were collaborating on the construction of a $6.5 billion processing plant in Guangdong, but the project was shelved last year amid protests from local residents. (Reporting by Charlie Zhu; Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Richard Pullin and Biju Dwarakanath)

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