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A deal long sought by French company Areva to build a $12 billion nuclear waste reprocessing plant in China looks increasingly unlikely to go ahead despite a visit to Beijing by President Emmanuel Macron meant to drum up business. During Macron's state visit this week, Areva and China National Nuclear Corp. signed a new "protocol agreement" to build the plant but, not for the first time, no definitive contract was signed.Since talks began more than a decade ago, when uranium prices were near record highs, a series of noncommittal French-Chinese memorandums of understanding have been signed for building a reprocessing plant in China modeled on state-owned Areva's plant in La Hague, northern France.The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and competition from renewable energy are weighing on the nuclear sector, and uranium prices are down 80 percent from a decade ago, making the expensive and dangerous recycling process less attractive.Areva CEO Philippe Knoche said he hoped to finalize the deal and start the project this year.
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