Nuclear: Mickey Mouse energy solutionToday's big stories from the nuclear industry:

Sarkozy to oust Areva CEO Lauvergeon - Wansquare

‘PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to oust Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of French nuclear reactor maker Areva (CEPFi.PA), Wansquare website reported on Thursday. The president plans to use cost overruns relating to the delayed construction of its first third-generation reactor in Finland as the pretext for terminating Lauvergeon's contract, Wansquare said, citing sources close to the president. Areva declined to comment. The president's office would not comment. Areva shares were down 1.7 percent at 326 euros by 1245 GMT.’

Cameco expects mid-2013 start-up at Cigar Lake

‘TORONTO (miningweekly.com) - Uranium producer Cameco Corp plans to start production at its large Cigar Lake project by mid-2013, CEO Jerry Grandey revealed on Thursday. This week's announcement is the first time that Cameco has been prepared to forecast a start-up date since its last setback at the beleaguered project, in Canada's Saskatchewan province. Cigar Lake flooded while in development in 2006 and again in 2008, but Cameco said this month it had successfully completed dewatering and was sending teams down for the first time to have a look at the condition of the underground workings and the water damage they may have sustained. Crews entered the main 480 level for the first time two weeks ago.’

India - Another nuclear scientist missing

‘CHENNAI: Another case of a scientific officers from a nuclear power plant in the country disappearing mysteriously has come to light. Anantha Narayanan (37), a scientific officer working in the computer department of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam, has been reported missing for the last ten days. In June last year, L Mahalingam, a scientist employed at the Kaiga atomic power station in Karnataka had gone missing and was later found dead in a river. According to police, Anantha Narayanan, who joined IGCAR in 1997, left home for work on February 15 around 8.30am as usual but didn't return. Preliminary investigation by local police and the IGCAR authorities suggest that he was disturbed by the serious illness of his elder daughter and some family disputes and that could have prompted him to leave his house. Police have formed several special teams and have been searching for him in places like Puducherry, Tiruvannamalai, Salem, Chennai and also in Andhra Pradesh.’

Investors to Be Offered 49% of Baltic Plant

‘ST. PETERSBURG - Russia plans to offer investors as much as a 49 percent stake in the country's first new nuclear power plant since Soviet times, as the government seeks to upgrade the country's power supply, Rosatom said Thursday. Rosatom held a foundation-laying ceremony Thursday for the plant in the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, the state corporation said in a statement on its web site. Rosatom, which plans to spend more than 11.6 billion rubles ($386 million) building the Baltic plant in the next two years, will offer investors long-term supply contracts as well as a 49 percent stake in the plant, the statement said. The company said it was holding talks with "several European companies, including from Germany," which would be the first foreign investment in a Russian nuclear power plant.’

Japanese media get special tour of Iran uranium conversion plant

‘ISFAHAN, Iran (Kyodo) A uranium conversion facility and nuclear fuel plant in Isfahan, central Iran, were shown to Japanese media Wednesday as the United States and Europe continued to pressure the country about its atomic ambitions. The conversion facility, which manufactures uranium hexafluoride as a raw material for uranium enrichment, forms the core of Iran's nuclear program in tandem with a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. The facility would be considered a prime military target if talks with the United States or Israel collapse and result in the use of force. The viewing, which was restricted to Japanese media companies, was considered an unusual move for Iran. Some observers say the act was aimed at proving Iran is acting transparently in pursuing nuclear power so it can gain support from Japan, a "friendly country" that is distancing itself from the United States and Europe, which are leaning toward increasing sanctions.’

TVA will evaluate SRS MOX fuel

‘The Tennessee Valley Authority will evaluate mixed oxide fuel to be produced at the Savannah River Site as part of the U.S. Energy Department's program to dispose of surplus, weapons-grade plutonium from dismantled warheads. According to an interagency agreement announced today between TVA and the National Nuclear Security Administration, the fuel-to be made at the $4.86 billion plant under construction at SRS-will be evaluated to gauge its suitability for use in TVA's Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear reactors. Previously, another power producer-Duke Energy-had signed an agreement to use MOX fuel, but the company disclosed in a Feb. 27, 2009, financial filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission that it allowed its contract to lapse. Duke officials have said the company remains interested, but no additional contracts have been announced.’

Iran wants to discuss Japan offer to enrich uranium

‘Iran will study a Japanese offer to enrich uranium for Tehran to allow it access to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said Thursday in Tokyo. A Japanese nuclear energy expert meanwhile told AFP he doubted Japan now has the technical capacity to follow through on such a proposal. The offer was made, with US backing, in December during a Tokyo visit by Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, the Nikkei business daily has reported, although Japan's government has not yet confirmed the plan. "We need to study this proposal by Japan," Larijani said in a speech, a day after he met Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian energy programme, but Larijani reiterated Tehran's stance that the fuel is for a research reactor making medicines. Japan, the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs, has long been a strong proponent of nuclear non-proliferation efforts, while it also has good ties with Iran, one of its main energy suppliers.’

Near-surface uranium zone discovered in Botswana

‘Australian mining company A-Cap Resources reports that its ongoing exploration at the Letlhakane uranium project, located south of the Makgadigadi pan, in Botswana, has resulted in the discovery of a new zone of near-surface secondary uranium mineralisation to the west of the Gorgon Prospect. The Letlhakane project involves the construction of Botswana’s first uranium mine in the area. A previous scoping study conducted on the site has confirmed a resource of 280-million tons, at 158 parts per million uranium oxide (U3O8) for 44 500 t of contained concentrate. The new zone has now been defined in a 150-m-wide × 500-m-long north-west-trending corridor, which remains open to the east and to the west. Uranium mineralisation starts within 1 m of the surface and goes down to a depth of 8 m.’