Country profile: Canada

Summary figures for 2013

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) 2013
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Canada
19
97.0
*
15.9
 
OECD America
121
897.4
18.0
 
OECD Total
325
1 883.2
18.6
 

* Provisional data

Country report

Uranium

Canadian uranium production totalled 9 331.5 tU in 2013, about 16% 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 7 744.3 tU in 2013.

The Rabbit Lake mine and mill, which are wholly owned and operated by Cameco, produced 1 587.2 tU in 2013. 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 will resume in the last half of 2014 to process high-grade ore from the Cigar Lake mine.

Cigar Lake, the world's second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, will begin production in 2014. When in full production, 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 2013, 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 Nuclear Laboratories received responses from various interested stakeholders, including private sector organisations, academics, local governments and industry associations.

In 2013, the government announced its intention to implement a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model for the management and operation of AECL's nuclear laboratories and is currently engaged in a competitive, collaborative procurement process.

Under the new management model, the Nuclear Laboratories will focus on three key objectives:

The government is also working to understand the potential business case for a forward-looking, industry-driven nuclear innovation agenda.

Prospects for new build

There are currently no commitments from any province or territory within Canada to build a new nuclear power reactor. The building of new reactor units, which falls under provincial jurisdiction, hinges largely on refurbishment plans for existing units, demand for electricity and economics.

In December 2013, the government of Ontario released its updated Long-Term Energy Plan which stated that, due to lower forecasted electricity demand from changes in the economy and gains in conservation and energy efficiencies, the province will not be proceeding at this time with the proposed construction of a new nuclear power plant in Ontario (Darlington New Nuclear Project – DNNP). The government of Ontario is working with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to maintain the site preparation licence granted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canada’s independent regulator, to preserve the option to build new nuclear in the future should the supply and demand picture change.

Refurbishment

The government of Ontario intends to proceed with the refurbishment of ten reactors, four at the Darlington generating station and six at the Bruce generating station. These refurbishments will add about 25-30 years to the operational life of each unit. Refurbishment is to start in 2016 with one reactor at each station, and commitments on subsequent refurbishments will take into account the cost and timing of preceding refurbishments, with appropriate off-ramps in place.

Decommission

On 28 December 2012, the Gentilly-2 generating station ceased operations, and activities are underway to place it in a safe-shutdown state. Then, OPG will begin the long-term decommissioning process of the Pickering station in 2020.

Responsible resource development

In 2012, the Canadian government launched the "Responsible Resource Development" plan to modernise Canada’s regulatory system and streamline the review process for major resource projects including for example nuclear power plant projects and new uranium mines and mills. Part of this plan included consolidating responsibility for environmental assessments with the CNSC for projects within its mandate, and establishing Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations to strengthen environmental protection and regulatory compliance. In addition, the CNSC established in regulation 24-month timelines for its regulatory review of applications for new nuclear power reactors and uranium mines and mills.

International developments

Nuclear liability

Canada signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage on 3 December 2013, and it was tabled in Parliament on 6 December 2013.

Bilateral agreements and initiatives

In September 2013, the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement entered into force, thus allowing Canadian firms to export and import controlled nuclear materials (including uranium), equipment and technology to and from India, subject to authorisations under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Export and Import Permits Act.

Canada and Kazakhstan signed a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) in November 2013. The two countries are following their respective domestic processes to bring the NCA into force in a timely manner.

Modernisation of the Nuclear Liability Act

On 30 January 2014, the Minister of Natural Resources introduced in Parliament an omnibus bill entitled "Energy Safety and Security Act – an act respecting Canada’s offshore oil and gas operation, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other acts" (Bill C-22). The proposed legislation would increase the operator’s liability limit from CAD 75 million under the current Nuclear Liability Act to CAD 1 billion under the new Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act. The bill is currently advancing through Canada’s parliamentary process.

Nuclear fuel waste

Long-term management of nuclear fuel waste

Canada is also making progress on the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. In 2007, the government approved the adaptive phased management (APM) approach to be implemented by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), which was established by the nuclear utilities. The APM approach represents a safe and secure plan for managing the waste that protects the health of Canadians and the environment. This plan involves isolating, containing and long-term monitoring of the nuclear fuel waste in a deep geological repository which would be constructed, operated and maintained at a suitable site in a willing host community. The NWMO – established by the nuclear energy corporations pursuant to the 2002 Nuclear Fuel Waste Act – is responsible for implementing it with government oversight. As of 31 December 2013, 21 willing host communities were participating in an NWMO site selection process. For information about the NWMO, please refer to www.nwmo.ca.

Deep geologic repository (DGR) 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 (JRP) to review the environmental effects of OPG’s proposed project. The JRP held public hearings in Kincardine and Port Elgin between 16 September and 30 October 2013.

The JRP continues its work to examine the environmental effects of the proposed project pursuant to Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012) and to obtaining the information necessary for the consideration of OPG’s licence application, under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, to prepare a site and to construct the DGR facility.

For more information about this project, refer to www.opg.com/generating-power/nuclear/nuclear-waste-management/Pages/deep-geologic-repository.aspx.

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2014

Web links

Last reviewed: 16 December 2014