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ISLAMABAD, May 8: Islamabad and Beijing will set up a corporation shortly to build nuclear- and coal-based power plants in Pakistan. The decision to form the ‘China-Pakistan Power Plant Corporation’ was taken during President Pervez Musharraf’s visit to China last month.

Sources said China had promised to help meet Pakistan’s nuclear energy requirements of 8,800 megawatts by 2030 by expediting the delivery of six plants of 300MW each. Earlier, the country had assisted Pakistan in setting up the Chashma-1 and Chashma-2 plants of the same capacity.

The sources said that several joint working groups and studies were being undertaken by the two countries to speed up cooperation in different fields, particularly the energy sector.

“But side by side, Pakistan is building a $1.2 billion facility to develop capability to manufacture full-cycle nuclear fuel and power plants,” they said.They said the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) would establish the Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex (PNPFC) to attain 100 per cent indigenous capability to manufacture pressurised water reactors (PWR) and nuclear power plants.

Pakistan had taken the decision to set up the complex in the face of nuclear suppliers’ denial of the technology to all except favoured ones. They cited as example the US deal with India on civil nuclear technology sales.

The complex will comprise a chemical processing plant, a fuel fabrication plant (FFP), nuclear power fuel testing project and Seamless Tube Plant-1 (STP-1).

Its prime objective is to set up an infrastructure for the production of PWR fuel, including essential input materials. Being an indigenous facility, it will assure regular supply of nuclear fuel to pressurised water reactors and nuclear power plants.

The plan will cost over Rs36.1 billion.

The chemical processing plant, which will cost Rs29 billion, is meant to produce nuclear fuel and structural materials, natural UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) gas from the commercially available yellow cake (U3O8) and for the conversion of depleted UF6 gas into depleted uranium metal.

The plant will act as road-map for fulfilling the requirement of one-third of fuel needed for nuclear plants planned to be constructed by 2030.

Initially, the PAEC is expected to construct six to eight nuclear power plants indigenously.

The fuel fabrication plant will be built at Rs4 billion to develop the capability for indigenous fabrication of fuel assembly for fulfilling the major share of the fuel requirements for existing and future nuclear plants.

At present, the government imports nuclear fuel from China for the 300MW Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-2. The fabrication cost is around $400 million and the proposed FFP will help achieve self-reliance of PWR fuel fabrication technology.

The nuclear power fuel testing project will be built at a cost of Rs1.2 billion. Its main objective is to establish experimental infrastructures to qualify the indigenously produced fuel system, covering its mechanical, thermal, hydraulic and functional requirement aspects. It will help attain the testing and analysis capability for nuclear fuel systems and resolve manufacturing, design and safety issues.

The Seamless Tube Plant-1 will be built at a cost of Rs3.5 billion and its prime objective is to set up an infrastructure for the production of structural materials (Zr-4/SS tubes and rods) to be used by the fuel fabrication plant.