BETHESDA, Md. – Centrus Energy Corp. (NYSE American: LEU) announced today that it has completed construction of a cascade of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges as well as most of the associated support systems. This milestone puts Centrus on track to begin demonstrating first-of-a-kind production of High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) in Piketon, Ohio, by the end of 2023, after completing remaining support systems and obtaining final approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This will be the first new U.S.-owned, U.S.-technology enrichment plant to begin production in 70 years.
“This is a major milestone for Centrus, for the advanced nuclear sector, and for the vital effort to restore America’s domestic uranium enrichment capability,” said Centrus Energy President and CEO Daniel B. Poneman. “We are strongly committed to pioneering production of HALEU to support the deployment of U.S. advanced reactor designs around the world. Our goal is to scale up this facility to meet the full range of commercial, government, and national security requirements for uranium enrichment, including Low-Enriched Uranium for existing reactors and HALEU for advanced reactors.”
HALEU is an advanced nuclear fuel required for most of the next-generation reactor designs currently under development. Nine of the ten advanced reactor designs selected for funding under the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, including the two demonstration reactors, will rely on HALEU, as will the first non-light water reactor to enter licensing review by the NRC.
Construction began in 2019 under a prior contract with DOE. In November 2022, DOE announced a new, competitively-awarded contract with Centrus to finish the cascade, complete final regulatory steps, begin operating the cascade, and produce HALEU for the production years at the Department’s sole discretion and subject to the availability of Congressional appropriations.
Construction of the cascade and most of the support systems is now complete. Centrus has also completed initial testing of the cascade and support systems.
Before operations can begin, Centrus needs to finish construction of the remaining support systems, including a fissile materials storage area, so that the HALEU produced for the Department can be stored onsite, and complete final operational readiness reviews with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to obtain NRC approval so that production can begin. The operational readiness reviews are required under Centrus’ Nuclear Regulatory Commission license, which was successfully amended in 2021 to allow for HALEU production, and made the Piketon site the only NRC-licensed HALEU production facility. Cascade operations and HALEU production are anticipated to begin by the end of 2023.
Expanding to Commercial Scale Production
Separate from the operations contract, Centrus is investigating the possibility to scale up the Piketon facility with additional centrifuge cascades for expanded HALEU production – provided that sufficient funding or offtake contracts can be secured. A full-scale HALEU cascade, consisting of 120 individual centrifuge machines, with a combined capacity of approximately 6,000 kilograms of HALEU per year (6 MTU/year), could be brought online within about 42 months of securing the funding to do so. Centrus has the capability to add an additional cascade every six months after that. Such an expansion would mobilize hundreds of union workers in Ohio to build and operate the plant and support thousands of direct and indirect jobs across a manufacturing supply chain that is 100 percent domestic and will be capable of meeting U.S. national security requirements.
Centrus Energy is a trusted supplier of nuclear fuel and services for the nuclear power industry. Centrus provides value to its utility customers through the reliability and diversity of its supply sources – helping them meet the growing need for clean, affordable, carbon-free electricity. Since 1998, the Company has provided its utility customers with more than 1,750 reactor years of fuel, which is equivalent to 7 billion tons of coal. With world-class technical and engineering capabilities, Centrus is also advancing the next generation of centrifuge technologies so that America can restore its domestic uranium enrichment capability in the future. Find out more at www.centrusenergy.com.
This news release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In this context, forward-looking statements mean statements related to future events, which may impact our expected future business and financial performance, and often contain words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “intends”, “plans”, “believes”, “will”, “should”, “could”, “would” or “may” and other words of similar meaning. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to us as of the date of this news release and represent management’s current views and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, events or results and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may be beyond our control. For Centrus Energy Corp., particular risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements include but are not limited to the following which are, and will be, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent variants, and any worsening of the global business and economic environment as a result; risks related to whether or when government funding or demand for high-assay low-enriched uranium (“HALEU”) for government or commercial uses will materialize; risks related to (i) our ability to perform and absorb costs under our agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) to deploy and operate a cascade of centrifuges to demonstrate production of HALEU for advanced reactors (the “HALEU Operations Contract”), (ii) our ability to obtain contracts and funding to be able to continue operations and (iii) our ability to obtain and/or perform under other agreements; risks related to uncertainty regarding our ability to commercially deploy a competitive enrichment technology; risks related to the fact that we face significant competition from major producers who may be less cost sensitive or are wholly or partially government owned; risks related to the impact of government regulation and policies including by the DOE and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and other risks and uncertainties discussed in this and our other filings with the SEC.
Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which apply only as of the date of this news release. These factors may not constitute all factors that could cause actual results to differ from those discussed in any forward-looking statement. Accordingly, forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as a predictor of actual results. Readers are urged to carefully review and consider the various disclosures made in this news release and in our other filings with the SEC, including our Annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, and our other filings with the SEC that attempt to advise interested parties of the risks and factors that may affect our business. We do not undertake to update our forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this news release, except as required by law.