From Volume 5, Issue Number 26 of EIR Online, Published June 27, 2006

World Economic News

Studies Begin for Mexico's Sonora Nuclear Plant

Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has initiated studies for the construction of a nuclear plant in the state of Sonora, which would begin production by 2015, the Mexican daily, La Jornada reported June 21. The Sonora plant would be built in parallel with the expansion of the existing Laguna Verde plant in Veracruz. The Sonora site was proposed last December by the National Nuclear Research Institute (ININ), in a study proposing two other new nuclear plants also be built in Laguna Verde. Sonora was reportedly chosen both because of the energy shortage in the north of the country, and because the state is viewed as having the elements needed to operate a plant of this sort.

Brazil Could Triple Uranium Production with New Mine

Brazil could triple its uranium production over the next three years, according to the Brazilian Nuclear Industry (INB). With the opening of a new uranium mine at Santa Quiteria in the state of Ceara within the next few months, Brazil's uranium production could jump from its current 400 tons to 1,200 tons a year, making Brazil the fifth-largest uranium producer in the world, after Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Canada.

With that production increase, Brazil could not only supply the uranium needed for its two existing nuclear plants, and the third which was started and then stopped two decades ago, but the National Nuclear Energy Committee (CNEN) has reportedly proposed that Brazil could also begin exporting yellowcake, processed in its newly-initiated uranium enrichment plant. Nervous Nellies are already arguing that such plans are too controversial to be adopted, given the international crisis over Iran's enrichment program, and domestic opposition from the environmentalists and bean-counters, as Gazeta Mercantil argued in its June 22 editorial. Any export of uranium yellowcake would require approval by the IAEA.

"The Brazilian Nuclear Program"—a global review of where Brazil's nuclear industry stands and where it must go from here—is now in the hands of the Executive branch, which is to make final decisions "shortly," it is said. One of the big issues to be decided, is whether Brazil's already-begun third nuclear plant, Angra 3, will finally be finished, 20 years later.

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