Day 12 review:

Adding value to South Australian radioactive minerals was the topic investigated in today’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission public sessions.

Three of the four witnesses appeared via videolink from overseas, offering the Commission an insight into international experiences, technology and current developments.

Professor Frank von Hippel, Princeton University, USA, appeared via video in this morning’s first session. Professor von Hippel is a theoretical physicist and Emeritus Professor of Public and International Affairs, and has worked on nuclear policy issues for more than 40 years. He has written extensively on the technical basis for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives and the future of nuclear energy.

His evidence covered:

  • Markets for uranium, enrichment and reprocessing services
  • Non-proliferation risks associated with enrichment and reprocessing
  • Arrangements for the secure supply of nuclear fuels

The next witness – James Voss from the University College London – also appeared via video from the USA. Mr Voss holds qualifications in nuclear engineering from the University of Arizona. He has worked in a number of countries in areas including radioactive waste management, nuclear fuel storage, renewable energy and environmental sectors. He discussed:

  • Concept of nuclear fuel leasing and potential demand for those services
  • The international and commercial arrangements necessary to establish a fuel leasing operation

Dr Michael Goldsworthy, founder and Managing Directors of Australian public-listed company SILEX Systems Ltd then spoke on disruptive laser enrichment technology. Apart from the nuclear power industry, Dr Goldsworthy has also had extensive experience in the semiconductor and solar power industries. He detailed:

  • Laser enrichment technology development
  • Potential for commerciality of laser enrichment technology in the long term
  • Anticipated opportunities and workforce requirements to establish and operate a laser enrichment plant

The day’s last witness was Dr Patrick Upson, formerly of URENCO Group, who appeared via video link from the UK. The URENCO Group is a nuclear fuel company operating uranium enrichment plants in Germany, the Netherlands, the US and UK. Dr Upson was a senior Executive in the International Nuclear Industry for many years up to 2010, serving in the URENCO Group for 25 years and is now an independent nuclear consultant. He addressed:

  • Practical arrangements required to undertake ‘front-end’ fuel processing services
  • The potential for entry into the uranium enrichment market.

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

The next Public Session is on Wednesday, October 21 – Topic 9 – Nuclear Reactor Safety and Regulation. Click here for topic and witness lists.