On September 10, Delphine Gény-Stephann, Secretary of State to the Minister for the Economy and Finance, accompanied by Philippe Varin, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Orano Group, and Philippe Knoche, Orano CEO, inaugurated the new Philippe Coste uranium conversion plant at the Orano Tricastin site. The event was attended by 60 international clients of the group, representatives of French and European administrations, parliamentarians, elected officials and local stakeholders, who came to celebrate this industrial and technological jewel, a showcase for French know-how in the nuclear sector.
In order to guarantee a reliable and predictable source of supply for our customers, while fully meeting requirements in terms of safety and the environment, Orano decided to both renovate the workshops at the Malvési site (Aude), which perform the first stage of uranium transformation, and build a new plant at the Tricastin site for the second stage of uranium transformation. The result is a fully renovated and modernized industrial facility, which represents an investment of more than 1.1 billion euros, 850 million of which was spent on the Philippe Coste plant at the Tricastin site alone. Including the new Georges Besse II enrichment plant, this amounts to more than 5 billion euros of investment made at the Orano Tricastin industrial site. This is the biggest industrial investment made in France in recent years and the group takes great pride in continuing to invest in France. Orano is the first manufacturer in the world to renew its conversion plants, thereby achieving a decisive competitive advantage.
"You can be proud of this plant, which completes the modernization of our capacities in the front end of the fuel cycle. We can never overstate the degree to which our excellence in the fuel cycle is a key asset of the French nuclear industry, which is an industry of vital importance for our country – the third largest French industry, with 220,000 jobs, global champions like Orano and skills that are admired across the globe."
Delphine Gény-Stephann, Secretary of State to the Minister for the Economy and Finance
Did you know?
Just like Georges Besse, Philippe Coste was a French industrialist, the first founding president of the Comurhex company. He was responsible for technical advances in the electrolysis of fluorine on an industrial scale.
90 million households supplied with low-carbon energy thanks to the Philippe Coste and Georges Besse II plans, equivalent to all the households in France, Germany and the UK.
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The COMURHEX II project, launched in 2006, involved renovating three workshops responsible for the first stage of uranium transformation at the Orano Malvési site (the new facilities have been fully operational since June 2016), and building, at the Orano Tricastin site, a new plant to replace the old COMURHEX I plant, which ceased production in December 2017. More than 450,000 tonnes of UF6 have been produced over a period of more than 50 years, equivalent to a year of global electricity consumption for all sources of energy (24,000 TWh) and representing savings of the same amount of CO2.