(Bloomberg) -- Orano SA will spend €1.7 billion ($1.8 billion) to expand a uranium-enrichment plant in southern France as countries in the West seek to reduce their reliance on Russian nuclear fuel.

The investment will boost production at the Georges Besse 2 facility by more than 30%, Orano said in a statement. The site will eventually process enough uranium to generate nuclear power for the equivalent of 120 million households a year, it said.

The US and Europe have refrained from sanctioning Russian nuclear behemoth Rosatom Corp. on concern that power supplies to hundreds of millions of people would be at risk. Still, they are increasingly cutting ties with the Kremlin, which has been curbing natural gas flows to Europe following its invasion of Ukraine.

“In the current geopolitical context, the purpose of this increase in enrichment capacities is to strengthen Western energy sovereignty in France,” Claude Imauven, chairman of state-controlled Orano, said Thursday. “Orano’s decision responds to requirements expressed by our customers to strengthen their security of supply, with production expected to start up as of 2028.”

Rosatom is the world’s largest enricher of uranium, with 43% of total production capacity, according to Orano. That’s followed by Urenco Ltd., a UK-Dutch-German group with a 31% share, China National Nuclear Corp. with 13%, and Orano with 12%.  

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