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Canada's Nuclear Future

Q&A with NexGen Energy CEO Leigh Curyer: How to Help Canada’s Nuclear Industry Thrive

Leigh Curyer

President & CEO, NexGen Energy

Mediaplanet sat down with Leigh Curyer, NexGen Energy’s President and CEO, to discuss Canada’s role in ensuring global energy security, why collaboration and diverse perspectives are critical to the growth of the nuclear industry, and more.

What notable changes have you observed in the nuclear energy industry over the decades, and what achievements in Canada are you most proud of?

There’s no other carbon-free energy source that can support a rapid transition away from fossil fuels like nuclear energy. It’s the linchpin of the energy transition. We see countries, like the United States, Sweden, Japan, and other nations, strengthening their commitment to nuclear power, which is driving the increased demand for uranium. With over 71 per cent of uranium production currently coming from state-owned or quasi-controlled companies, there has been a push to diversify uranium supply chains to secure energy security and achieve energy independence.

It’s been many years since Canada licensed a net-new uranium mine. As NexGen advances through the regulatory process, it’s clear that Canada has the best interests of all parties at the centre of the decision-making process. I’m incredibly proud of the work that has been done to ensure that Indigenous communities have a say in what happens in their community, which strongly aligns with NexGen’s way of working since we began.

Why does Canada play a crucial role in ensuring global energy security?

With the potential of sanctions on uranium and threats of nationalization, production from geopolitically stable, allied sources is increasingly important.

Saskatchewan specifically is a mining-friendly province that approaches mining sensibly and sustainably. As a geopolitically safe jurisdiction and one of the top producers of uranium, Saskatchewan is primed to lead the energy transition as more projects come online in the next decade, including the Rook I project, which will shore up and diversify the uranium supply chain. In doing this, we’re able to secure the energy transition of nations who are allied for energy security and targeting net zero.

As President and CEO of NexGen Energy, how do you envision fostering an environment where all companies have the opportunity to contribute to and thrive in Canada’s nuclear industry?

NexGen has committed to ensuring uranium is used responsibly throughout its entire lifecycle. Our commitment to countries seeking energy security and targeting net zero spans four critical areas: 1. Only sell to nations who are allied for energy security and targeting net zero. 2. Maintain a checklist of standards for all partners in the chain of custody of our uranium. 3. Keep our supply chain and operations onshore in these nations to guarantee the highest levels of security, safety, labour standards, and local community partnership. 4. Advocate for policies that support sensibly produced uranium to set a new standard for the industry.

I encourage all exploration and mining companies to join us and make these types of commitments. With these to guide us all as the industry standard, we can work toward a future where Canadian companies thrive in the new nuclear age. 

Why are collaboration and diverse perspectives so crucial for the growth of the nuclear industry?

Uranium is too essential to our future to rest on mining methods of the past. Collaboration and diverse perspectives will be critical to innovation. For example, at NexGen, we’ve incorporated best-in-class practices and designs that meet and exceed industry standards into the Rook I project. Our approach incorporates proven technologies and includes a first-of-its-kind underground tailings management facility to store all processed tailings underground.

Additionally, we’re incorporating flexibility into our contracting strategy, which will deliver better financial results for producers, customers, and investors.

While we have industry expertise and experience, we’re continuously working to ensure an optimal environmental and social outcome for all stakeholders.

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