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Lanzhou Uranium Enrichment Plant

Last Modified: May 6, 2014
Other Name: 中核兰州铀浓缩有限公司; CNNC Lanzhou Uranium Enrichment Co., Ltd.; Plant 504 (504厂)
Location: 25km northeast of Lanzhou, Gansu Province
Subordinate To: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC)
Size: 7.67 square kilometers, 3400 employees including 1200 technical personnel[1]
Facility Status: Operational; converted to commercial use


The Lanzhou Uranium Enrichment Plant produced highly enriched uranium (HEU) for China’s military stockpile before being converted to the production of low-enriched uranium (LEU) for commercial use in 1980. It is composed of the following plants:

Gaseous Diffusion Plant
The material for China's first nuclear explosion in October 1964 was HEU produced at the gaseous diffusion plant (GDP) near Lanzhou. The project began with Soviet assistance in the late 1950s and is based on the technology from the D-1, the first GDP in the USSR.[2] The Lanzhou GDP produced an estimated 1.1 million SWU, enough for 6 tons of 90% HEU, before switching to LEU production for China's civilian nuclear power plants in 1980.[3] The plant continued to operate for civilian purposes until 1987.[4]
 
Centrifuge Enrichment Plant
In 1992, China and Russia signed a government-to-government agreement for the supply of gas centrifuge enrichment plants for commercial LEU production.[5] The first two phases were constructed at Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, but China decided to build the third phase at Lanzhou in order to utilize the existing infrastructure and workers from the decommissioned gaseous diffusion plant.[6] The Lanzhou centrifuge plant was completed in 2001 and has a capacity of 500,000 SWU/year.[7] Unlike the Hanzhong enrichment facilities, the Lanzhou plant is not under IAEA safeguards, which may be related to the fact that it is co-located with the former military site. In addition, it was reported that China built an additional 500,000 SWU/year indigenous gas centrifuge plant at Lanzhou in 2010.[8]
 
Sources:
[1] “中核兰州铀浓缩有限公司 [CNNC Lanzhou Uranium Enrichment Company, Ltd.],” China National Nuclear Corporation, http://cnnc.chinahr.com.
[2] David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, “Chinese Military Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories,” Institute for Science and International Studies, 30 June 2005, www.isis-online.org.
[3] “Global Fissile Material Report 2010,” International Panel on Fissile Materials, 2010, www.fissilematerials.org.
[4] David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, “Chinese Military Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories,” Institute for Science and International Studies, 30 June 2005, www.isis-online.org.
[5] Mark Hibbs, “With More Russian Centrifuges, China Will Close Lanzhou Plant,” Nuclear Fuel, 6 October 1997, www.lexis-nexis.com and Oleg Bukharin, “Understanding Russia's Uranium Enrichment Complex,” Science and Global Security, 12:193–218, 2004, http://meaimyvik.info.
[6] Mark Hibbs, “China Moved Centrifuge Complex to Keep Enriching U at Lanzhou,” Nuclear Fuel, 17 May 1999, www.lexis-nexis.com.
[7] M.D. Laughter, “Profile of World Uranium Enrichment Programs-2009,” Oak Ridge National Laboratory, April 2009.
[8] Pavel Podvig, “China is Believed to Operate Indigenous Enrichment Plant,” International Panel on Fissile Materials Blog, 25 October 2010, www.fissilematerials.org.
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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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