Toshiba, Marubeni to help with Kazakh nuclear power studies

Toshiba Corp. and Marubeni Corp. said Wednesday they will team up with the Kazakh government for nuclear power plant feasibility studies and technological cooperation in the central Asian nation.

The move is part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the trio and the state-run National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is yet to adopt nuclear power and has shown an interest in advanced boiling water reactors. The cutting-edge reactors are larger and safer than conventional boiling water reactors.

Japan Atomic Power, which is backed by electric utilities, will offer construction cost estimates, advise on legislation and regulations, and provide other services. Toshiba will be responsible for the plant concept and specifications, while Marubeni’s nuclear power subsidiary, Marubeni Utility Services Ltd., will oversee fundraising and economic feasibility studies. The Kazakh government will consider building a nuclear power plant based on the three firms’ proposals.

Trailing Australia, Kazakhstan boasts the world’s second-largest uranium reserves. Japan, which depends on uranium imports, in the future plans to procure 30-40% of its domestic needs from Kazakhstan, says the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Toshiba, Marubeni, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other domestic firms already have stakes in Kazakh uranium mines equivalent to 30-40% of Japan’s needs.

In March, Japan and Kazakhstan sealed a nuclear cooperation pact, paving the way for Japanese exports of nuclear power equipment to its partner. Boosted by this latest round of cooperation, Japan hopes to win future orders to build nuclear power stations.

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