Russia and Argentina signed Tuesday a memorandum of understanding to advance uranium exploration and production in the South American country, which already generates 5% of its electricity with three heavy-water nuclear reactors.
The deal, sealed during a visit by Argentine President Mauricio Macri to Moscow, could bring up to $250 million in investments into the country’s sector, according to Argentina’s foreign ministry official statement (in Spanish).
The agreement includes Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom commitment to build a nuclear power station in Argentina, which had already revealed plans to build other two new nuclear reactors in the second half of this year. The $13 billion-plan will be financed mostly by Chinese organizations.
Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are the only three Latin American countries with functioning nuclear power plants.
Russia and Argentina vowed to apply an extraction method known as “in-situ recovery” (ISR), developed by Canada’s Uranium One, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom, and the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer.
It involves the extraction of uranium-bearing water that is then filtered through resin beads and, according to Argentina’s foreign ministry, is the most cost-efficient technique, which also has a minimum environmental impact, as it doesn’t require soil removal.
Currently, Argentina imports uranium from countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan for its own use, as well as for exporting it after enrichment to other markets, including Brazil.
Today’s agreement, said the Argentine government, will help the country achieve “national self-sufficiency in uranium.”