Yibin Nuclear Fuel Component Plant

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Last Updated: September 29, 2011
Other Name: China Jianzhong Nuclear Fuel Company, Ltd. (中核建中核燃料元件有限公司); Yibin Nuclear Material Plant; Plant 812 (八一二厂); Yibin Nuclear Fuels Factory; Yibin Fuel Plant (YFP); Yibin Nuclear Fuel Element Factory
Location: Yibin, Sichuan Province
Subordinate To: China Jianzhong Nuclear Fuel Company, Ltd. (CJNF), subsidiary company of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC)
Size: Over 5800 employees[1]
Facility Status: Operational, partially converted to civilian use, retains military functions

In the late 1960s China constructed the Yibin Nuclear Fuel Component plant as a part of its “Third Line” efforts to duplicate nuclear weapon research, production, and assembly facilities.[2] The facilities at Yibin produced and processed plutonium for nuclear weapons.[3]

In 1982 the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) set up a pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuel fabrication plant at Yibin to supply the Qinshan 1 reactor, and placed operation under CNNC subsidiary China Jianzhong Nuclear Fuel (JNF). By October 2008 the facility reached annual output of 400 tonnes per year of PWR fuel.[4] In response to growing demand for nuclear fuel, in 2010 the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry approved a plan to expand production to 800 tonnes per year, and previously reported figures suggest the plant may reach a capacity of 1000 tonnes or more per year by 2020. The facility has manufactured fuel for Qinshan Phase I and Phase II, Guangdong Daya Bay and Ling Ao nuclear power plants, as well as for Pakistan's Chashma plant.[5]

The Yibin fabrication plant has modernized through technology transfers with the goal of supplying fuel to all of China’s PWRs.[6] In 1991 the plant received from Framatome ANP the AFA 2G fuel assemblies’ technology, which supplied fuel reloads for the two Guangdong Daya Bay nuclear plant units and the first cores for Qinshan phase II. In 1998 another contracted provided the transfer of AFA 3G fuel technology.[7] Using technology transferred from Russian nuclear fuel company TVEL, in 2009 the facility began production of VVER fuel for China’s Tianwan units, and under an agreement reached in 2010 the facility will receive production technology to manufacture the more advanced TVS-2M.[8] The Tianwan-1 will switch to TVS-2M fuel in 2014.[9]

[1] “公司简介 [Brief Introduction to the Company],” China Jianzhong Nuclear Fuel Co. Ltd., www.cjnf.com.cn.
[2] Robert Norris, Andrew Burrows and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume V: British, French, and Chinese Nuclear Weapons (Colorado: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 349-350.
[3] Leonard Spector and Mark G. McDonough, Tracking Nuclear Proliferation (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1995), p. 55.
[4] “China’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” World Nuclear Association, 28 July 2011, www.world-nuclear.org.
[5] “Chinese VVERs Start Using Domestically Made Fuel,” World Nuclear News, 31 August 2010, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[6] “Technical Reports Series no. 425, Country Nuclear Fuel Cycle Profiles,” International Atomic Energy Agency, 2005, p. 36.
[7] Press Release, “Framatome ANP: New Step in the Nuclear Fuel Cooperation Program with the Yibin Plant in China,” Areva, 26 February 2003, www.areva-np.com.
[8] “TVEL Signs Package of Chinese Fuel Contracts,” World Nuclear News, 2 November 2010, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[9] Claire-Louise Isted, “Tianwan-1 to Load Chinese Fuel under Russian License,” Platts NuclearFuel, 7 March 2011.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury 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. Copyright 2016.