The following information is from the NEA publication Nuclear Energy Data, the annual compilation of official statistics and country reports on nuclear energy in OECD member countries.
Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid
Nuclear electricity generation
(net TWh) 2011
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
* Provisional data
Canadian uranium production totalled 9 775 tU in 2010, 18.2% of the total world production. All Canadian production is from mines located in northern Saskatchewan.
McArthur River, the world's largest high-grade uranium mine, and the Key Lake mill, the world's largest uranium mill, are operated by Cameco Corporation. These two facilities maintained their standing as the world's largest uranium production centre by producing 7 654 tU in 2010.
The Rabbit Lake mine and mill, which are wholly owned and operated by Cameco, produced 1 463 tU in 2010. Exploratory drilling during 2010 delineated additional resources and extended the life of the mine until at least 2017.
Production from the McClean Lake uranium mine and mill, operated by AREVA Resources Canada Inc., amounted to 657 tU in 2010. All production since 2008 has been from stockpiled ore. In July 2010, the stockpile was depleted and production suspended. Production is expected to resume in 2013 when high-grade ore from the Cigar Lake mine becomes available for processing.
Cigar Lake, the world's second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, is being developed by Cameco. Production from the Cigar Lake mine is expected to begin in 2013 and the mine has an annual production capacity of 6 900 tU.
Nuclear energy represents an important component of Canada's electricity sources. In 2011, nuclear energy provided 15% of Canada's total electricity needs (over 60% in Ontario) and should continue to play an important role in supplying Canada with power in the future.
In October 2011, the government of Canada completed the sale of the assets of AECL's CANDU Reactor Division to Candu Energy Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC Lavalin. The government believes that Candu Energy will be well positioned to compete, partner and deliver new projects in the nuclear power sector. The government is now undertaking the second phase of the restructuring with a focus on the future of AECL's Nuclear Laboratories. The restructuring will focus on establishing the most appropriate long-term mandate, governance and management structures for the laboratories in order to enhance their performance. A Request for Expression of Interest was issued in early 2012 to seek views from industry, utilities, provincial and territorial governments, and other stakeholder organisations with interest in one or more aspects of the laboratories.
The construction of new nuclear power reactors has been considered by some public and private companies in Canada over the past years. The actual number of new reactor units to be built hinges largely on refurbishment plans for existing units, demand for electricity and economics. Although there are currently no firm commitments from any province or territory within Canada to build a new nuclear power reactor, the regulatory process for the proposed construction of a new nuclear power plant in Ontario (Darlington New Nuclear Project) is progressing well.
Refurbishment projects are currently underway or have been announced in Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec. In Ontario, Bruce Power's restart and refurbishment programme of Bruce A units 1 and 2 has been underway for a few years. Both units are nearing completion and are expected to return to service in the second quarter of 2012. Bruce Power is also examining the life extension of other units at its Lake Huron site. New Brunswick Power began the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear station in March 2008 and it is expected to return to service in the fall of 2012. A final decision concerning the refurbishment of Gentilly-2 generating station is expected sometime in 2012.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is pursuing its two-part investment strategy for its Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations announced in 2010. First, OPG is proceeding with a detailed planning phase for the mid-life refurbishment of its four nuclear power reactors at the Darlington station, with work expected to start in 2016. This will enable the station to operate for an additional 25-30 years. Second, OPG is proceeding with the investment of USD 300 million to ensure the continued safe and reliable performance of its Pickering station (the two Pickering A units and the four Pickering B units) up until 2020 when it will reach the end of its operating life. OPG will begin the long-term decommissioning process of the Pickering station at that time.
CANDU reactors abroad
Currently, there are a total of nine CANDU-6 reactors in operation outside of Canada (four in South Korea, two in China and Romania and one in Argentina).
On 28 February 2005, Canada signed an international commitment as part of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), an initiative that provides a framework for conducting long-term multilateral R&D to develop Generation IV nuclear energy systems. The impetus behind GIF is to develop nuclear reactor designs (for deployment beyond 2025) that address the challenges facing nuclear technologies today. As one of the members of GIF, Canada has been active in developing the GIF policy framework and providing technical expertise.
Of the six reactor systems endorsed by the GIF, Canada identified and is actively participating in the development of two systems: the supercritical-water-cooled reactor (SCWR) and the very-high-temperature reactor (VHTR).
In previous parliaments, similar versions of a bill entitled the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA) were introduced to replace the current Nuclear Liability Act (NLA) with legislation that would have aligned Canada's nuclear civil liability regime with international standards. Specifically, Bill C-63 was introduced on 17 June 2007; Bill C-5 on 26 October 2007; Bill C-20 on 24 March 2009; and Bill C-15 on 16 April 2010. However, as a result of prorogation or dissolution of parliament, these bills all died on the Order Paper. At this time, any decision to move forward on introducing a similar bill rests with the government.
The NLCA would have replaced the NLA, legislation proclaimed in 1976 which governs civil liability in the event that an incident at a nuclear power plant results in civil damages in Canada. The NLA sets out acomprehensive scheme of civil liability for injury and damage arising from nuclear accidents and a compensation system for victims. It embodies the principles of absolute and exclusive liability of the operator, mandatory insurance and limitations on the operator's liability in both time and amount.
Some of the features of the NLCA are increased liability for nuclear operators of CAD 650 million versus the current CAD 75 million, a mechanism for periodic updating of the operator's liability, a longer limitation period for submitting compensation claims for bodily injury (30 years versus the current 10 years), clarification of a number of key concepts and definitions and greater definition of compensation procedures.
On 15 November 2002, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) came into force, requiring the nuclear energy corporations (i.e. Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Québec and New Brunswick Power) to establish the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Pursuant to the NFWA, the NWMO is required to develop long-term waste management options for nuclear fuel waste and to implement the governmentselected approach. The NWMO submitted its final study of options, Choosing a Way Forward, to the Minister of Natural Resources on 3 November 2005.
On 14 June 2007, after careful review of the NWMO study, the government of Canada announced that it had selected the Adaptive Phased Management (APM) approach for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. The APM approach recognises that people benefiting from nuclear energy produced today must take steps to ensure that the wastes are dealt with responsibly and without unduly burdening future generations. At the same time, it is sufficiently flexible to adjust to changing social and technological developments. The NWMO is required to implement the government's decision according to the NFWA using funds provided by the owners of nuclear fuel waste.
Following this decision, the NWMO developed a five-year implementation plan in consultation with stakeholders and citizens. The annually updated plan is a living document that is regularly assessed, strengthened and revised in response to new information, advances in technology, changes in societal values and evolving public policy. The plan describes how the organisation intends to move forward with implementing the APM approach.
Starting in 2008, the NWMO carried out dialogues mainly in the four provinces that host nuclear fuel cycle activities (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan) to develop a process for identifying a suitable site in an informed and willing community to host a deep underground facility for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. By early 2010, the NWMO finalised its siting plan which describes a process to identify a safe, secure and suitable site for a deep geological repository, hosted by an informed willing host community.
In May 2010, the siting process was initiated with an invitation to communities to learn more about the repository project. A number of communities have expressed interest in engaging with the NWMO to learn about the project as they consider their potential interest in hosting such a facility. It is expected to take a number of years before a suitable site within an informed and willing host community is confirmed. The NWMO continues to broaden and strengthen its relationships with interested Canadians and stakeholders who are involved in its work and invites them to participate in the important work ahead towards implementing the APM approach. For information about the NWMO, refer to www.nwmo.ca.
Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2012
Last reviewed: 7 October 2011