Country profile: Canada

Summary figures for 2012

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.

Country
Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid
Nuclear electricity generation
(net TWh) 2012
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Canada
19
91.0
*
15.3
 
OECD America
125
869.3
18.0
 
OECD Total
331
1 884.0
18.9
 

* Provisional data

Country report

Uranium

Canadian uranium production totalled 8 998 tU in 2012; about 16% of 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 7 520 tU in 2012.

The Rabbit Lake mine and mill, which are wholly owned and operated by Cameco, produced 1 479 tU in 2012. 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., was suspended in July 2010, when the ore stockpile from the open-pit phase of mining was depleted. Production from the mill is expected to resume in the last half of 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 will have an annual production capacity of 6 900 tU.

Nuclear energy

Nuclear energy represents an important component of Canada's electricity sources. In 2012, nuclear energy provided an estimated 15% of Canada's total electricity needs (over 50% in Ontario) and should continue to play an important role in supplying Canada with power in the future.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL)

In October 2011, the Canadian government 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 Inc. will be well positioned to compete, partner, and deliver new projects in the nuclear power sector.

In 2012, the government launched the second phase of the restructuring of AECL, focusing on the future of AECL's Nuclear Laboratories. A Request for Expression of Interest on the future of the laboratories received 46 responses from various interested stakeholders, including private sector organisations, academics, local governments and industry associations. Based on stakeholder input, financial modelling, governance and other analyses, the government is restructuring the Nuclear Laboratories to strengthen accountability and bring private sector rigour and efficiencies to the management and operations of the organisation, and with a view to focus the Nuclear Laboratories on:

Prospects for new build

The proposed construction of a new nuclear power plant in Ontario (Darlington New Nuclear Project) continues to progress well. In 2012, the project's environmental assessment was approved by the Canadian government, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) issued a site preparation licence, which is the first of three licences required to build and operate a new nuclear facility in Canada. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) also signed agreements with two companies to prepare detailed construction plans, schedules and cost estimates. The reports, which are expected to be ready by summer 2013, will help inform the government of Ontario's decision on whether or not to move forward with the proposed new nuclear reactors

Refurbishment

The refurbishments of Ontario's Bruce A units 1 and 2 and New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear station have all been completed and the units returned to service in fall 2012. Bruce Power is examining the life extension of other units at its Lake Huron site, and invested over CAD 500 million to extend the life of Bruce A units 3 and 4 to approximately 2020.

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 construction 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 CAD 200 million to ensure the continued safe and reliable performance of its Pickering station up until 2020 when it will reach the end of its operating life. Then, OPG will begin the long-term decommissioning process of the Pickering station.

Decommissioning

On 28 December 2012, the Gentilly-2 generating station ceased operations, and a long-term decommissioning plan is in the works.

Responsible resource development

In 2012, the Canadian government launched Responsible Resource Development, a plan to streamline the review process for major resource projects. Under this plan, the CNSC has committed to firm, end-to-end timelines for its reviews of new nuclear development. A 24-month timeline will apply to the CNSC portion of reviews and decisions for site preparation licences for new class I nuclear facilities. This timeline will also apply to the CNSC portion of reviews and decisions for licences for site preparation and construction of new uranium mines or mills.

International developments

CANDU reactors abroad

Currently, there are nine CANDU-6 reactors in operation outside of Canada. There are four CANDU reactors in operation in the Republic of Korea, two in the People's Republic of China and Romania and one in Argentina.

Generation IV International Forum

On 28 February 2005, Canada signed an international commitment as part of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), an initiative to collaboratively develop the next generation of nuclear energy systems that will provide competitively priced and reliable energy in a safe and sustainable way. Canada is one of the members of GIF, and has been active in developing the GIF policy framework and providing technical expertise.

Of the six reactor systems endorsed by GIF, Canada is focused on the development of the supercritical water-cooled reactor (SCWR) system. The system was viewed as the most natural evolution of existing CANada's Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) technology and best enables Canada to contribute to the R&D initiative by mobilising existing Canadian CANDU expertise and research facilities.

Bilateral agreements and initiatives

In July 2012, Canada and the People's Republic of China signed a Protocol to Supplement, the 1994 Canada-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, to facilitate exports of uranium concentrates from Canada to the People's Republic of China. The protocol is in full accordance with Canada's longstanding nuclear nonproliferation policies and obligations, and ensures that Canadian supplied uranium will be used in the People's Republic of China's nuclear programme strictly for peaceful, civilian purposes. Progress was also made toward implementation of the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, as negotiations on an Appropriate Arrangement concluded in November 2012.

Modernisation of the Nuclear Liability Act

The Canadian government is committed to bringing in legislation that will update and enhance Canada's nuclear liability regime. 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 brought Canada's nuclear civil liability regime up to 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 16 April 2010. However, as a result of prorogation or dissolution of parliament, these bills all died on the Order Paper. There is expectation that a new bill could be introduced in 2013, subject to the considerations of the government.

Nuclear fuel waste

Long-term management of nuclear fuel waste

Adaptive phased management (APM) is Canada's approach for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. APM involves the containment and isolation of nuclear fuel waste in a deep geological repository (DGR). 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. APM is implemented by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), using funds provided by the owners of nuclear fuel waste.

Following the Canadian government's selection of the APM approach in 2007, the NWMO developed a siting process to identify an informed willing host community with a safe, secure and suitable site for a DGR. This nine-step siting process was collaboratively designed, refined and finalised through an iterative two-year public engagement and consultation process.

In May 2010, the NWMO initiated the siting process with an invitation to communities to learn more about the APM project and the plan to safely manage Canada's nuclear fuel waste over the long term. The expression of interest phase of the siting process was suspended as of 30 September 2012. As of 31 December 2012, 21 communities are actively engaged with the NWMO to learn about the APM project as they consider their potential interest.

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.

Deep geological repository for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (L&ILW)

OPG is proposing to build a DGR at the Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine, Ontario for the safe, long-term management of OPG's L&ILW waste. On 24 January 2012, the Federal Minister of the Environment and the President of the CNSC announced the establishment of a three-member joint review panel to review the environmental effects of OPG's proposed project. It is anticipated that the joint review panel will hold public hearings in fall 2013. Following those hearings, the joint panel will submit a report to the Minister of Environment for consideration. Should the proposed project's environmental effects be found acceptable, a site preparation/construction licence would be issued and construction would likely begin in 2014-15, with the facility first accepting waste in 2020.

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2013

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Last reviewed: 10 December 2013