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Poland’s KGHM issues statement on NuScale SMR project following contract termination speculation

Polish mining company KGHM issued a statement earlier today (10 November) in which it “categorically denies” media reports which claimed that cooperation with US nuclear company NuScale has been terminated.

“This American company has not terminated its agreement with the copper company. KGHM is continuing to advance its plans related to SMRs and asks that only accurate information be distributed on investments which are of vital importance for Poland’s energy security,” KGHM’s press statement read.

On 13 April this year, KGHM applied to the Ministry of Climate and Environment for the issuance of a basic decision – that is, the first administrative decision in the permits and approvals system that an investor can apply for in the case of a nuclear power plant construction project. In the mentioned request, KGHM specified the following light-water reactor technologies intended for use in the planned investment: Rolls-Royce SMR, NUWARD, SMR-160, BWRX-300 and VOYGR.

The technology offered by the company NuScale Power, LLC was identified by KGHM – solely for the purpose of preparing the application – as a “preferred” technology given the substantial progress in the certification process of this technology by the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the United States. On 13 July, KGHM received a basic decision from the Climate and Environment Ministry, which comprises all the proposed reactor technologies indicated by the company in its application.

“We also wish to emphasise that KGHM is currently focused on the most proven constructions, for example, on pressurised light water reactors (which, in comparison to boiling water reactors, are characterised by a lack of negative experience in terms of safety), which substantially simplifies and shortens design work,” the statement further read.

As noted in the statement, the Polish mining company’s approach towards SMR development “strictly corresponds” to the position of the Polish government as expressed in the Polish Nuclear Energy Programme.

The termination of NuScale’s project to build a VOYGR-6 nuclear power plant in the US under the Carbon Free Power Project has “no material impact” on KGHM’s planned SMR nuclear project in Poland, regardless of the supplier of the technology and without reservation of exclusivity, the KGHM said. “The preliminary agreement entered into with NuScale Power, LLC on 14 February 2022 provided KGHM with access to technical data of the supplier of the technology, which was needed, among others, to initiate the process of selecting a target reactor technology,” the statement concluded.

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