BETHESDA, Md. - USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU) announced today that it is ending its funding for research and development of the SILEX laser-based uranium enrichment process. USEC has been funding R&D on the SILEX process since 1996, when the Company signed an agreement with Silex Systems Limited in Australia. USEC will now focus all of its advanced technology resources on the demonstration and deployment of USEC’s American Centrifuge uranium enrichment technology.
In late 1999, the Company commenced a review of advanced uranium enrichment technologies, including U.S. and foreign gas centrifuges and the Silex laser enrichment process. In 2002, USEC announced that it was proceeding with demonstration and deployment of the American Centrifuge as its next generation of enrichment technology, while continuing to explore SILEX.
The Company has concluded that it is unlikely that the SILEX technology can be utilized to meet USEC’s needs and it would not be a prudent investment for its shareholders. Although the SILEX process is capable of enriching uranium, it is still in the early stage of development and faces numerous technological hurdles that must be overcome.
With the termination of USEC’s agreement, rights to develop the SILEX technology for uranium enrichment revert back to Silex Systems Limited. USEC commends the Silex team for its creative, resourceful and dedicated efforts on this technology development program.
USEC expects that its American Centrifuge will be the world’s most advanced uranium enrichment technology. On February 12, two months ahead of schedule, USEC submitted its application to the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct and operate the American Centrifuge Demonstration Facility at the Company’s facilities in Piketon, Ohio. NRC anticipates completing its technical review of the application by February 2004. USEC plans to deploy the American Centrifuge by the end of the decade.
This news release contains forward-looking information (within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) that involves risks and uncertainty, including certain assumptions regarding the future performance of USEC. Actual results and trends may differ materially depending upon a variety of factors, which are described in USEC’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These SEC filings are available on USEC’s website www.usec.com.
USEC Inc., a global energy company, is the world’s leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
Charles Yulish (301) 564-3391
Elizabeth Stuckle (301) 564-3399