Enrichment: Global Laser Enrichment
- Cameco has a 49% interest in GLE, the exclusive licensee of the proprietary Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation (SILEX) technology. GLE is developing this third-generation uranium enrichment technology.
- Cameco is also the commercial lead for the project.
- Our partner in GLE is Silex Systems Limited of Australia (51% interest), the licensor of the SILEX technology.
- Cameco has been a partner in GLE since 2008, when we acquired our initial 24% interest in the company.
We continue to explore innovative areas like laser enrichment technology to broaden our fuel cycle participation and help us serve our customers more effectively. Uranium enrichment is the second-largest value component, after uranium, in a typical light-water reactor fuel bundle.
While there are still a number of development milestones before this technology could be commercialized, we believe it has excellent potential to expand Cameco’s reach in the nuclear fuel cycle in the future, building on the existing world-class assets and capabilities we already possess in uranium production, refining, conversion and fuel fabrication.
The progression of GLE’s technology development program through to commercialization, at a pace determined by market fundamentals, could lead to GLE offering long-term advantages to the global nuclear energy sector, particularly in the following areas:
Depleted Tails Re-enrichment
As per GLE’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, re-enriching depleted uranium tails leftover as a by-product of previous-generation enrichment technologies, repurposing legacy waste into uranium and conversion products to fuel nuclear reactors and aiding in the responsible clean-up of enrichment facilities no longer in operation.
High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU)
Producing high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), the primary fuel stock for the majority of small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor designs that are proceeding through the development stage toward commercial readiness.
Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU)
Producing low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel for the world’s existing and future fleet of large-scale light-water reactors with greater efficiency and flexibility than current enrichment technologies. The enrichment market has the same customer base as the uranium market, and most of the world’s commercial nuclear reactors need enriched uranium.
Canada and the United States are among the nations around the world pursuing ambitious carbon reduction strategies. Governments in both countries have signaled significant interest in cooperating on clean energy solutions, developing and deploying SMR technologies, and collaborating to bolster critical mineral and nuclear fuel cycle security.
GLE could fit extremely well with these bilateral policy priorities, potentially providing a stable source of North American-based uranium enrichment, adding to the robustness of the continental nuclear energy supply chain, and helping to de-risk any fuel concerns impeding the progress of emerging SMR designs.
Cameco is committed to responsibly and sustainably managing our business while increasing our contributions to global climate change solutions. Our investment in GLE aligns well with these objectives.