PARIS — French explosives maker Eurenco will spend €500 million (U.S. $540 million) to restart explosive powder production and boost output of artillery propellants, said French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to the company’s site in Bergerac on Thursday.

The investments by state-owned Eurenco over the next two years will double propellant production, Macron said during his visit, timed to the kickoff of new production capacity construction. The company will also resume production of the explosive powder used to make propellant charges, after France shut down powder production in 2007 and switched to imports.

The site of the shuttered powder production had become a wasteland. The investment in Bergerac “is, for me, the image of this industrial reconquest and military sovereignty that we want for ourselves and for Europe,” Macron said. The site started production of artillery powder during the First World War.

The target is for the Bergerac site to produce 1,200 metric tons of explosive powder a year, equivalent to 500,000 modular propellant charges, the Armed Forces Ministry said in February.

France has concluded that if it wants to accelerate artillery shell production and secure supply, it needs to control the entire process, including powder, the president said. Currently, French shell production relies on powder manufactured in Sweden.

Eurenco will increase the workforce in Bergerac to 450 in the next 18 to 24 months, after already growing the number of employees to 250 from 200 previously, according to Macron.

The company was awarded about €76 million in subsidies as part of the European Commission’s Act in Support of Ammunition Production to increase production capacity in France and Sweden. Eurenco says it will boost powder production tenfold, double production capacity for modular charges by 2026, and double its ammunition and explosives loading production by 2025.

France needs to increase propellant production both to aid Ukraine as well as for its own defense, Macron said. He said the Caesar 155mm howitzers supplied to Ukraine by France and Denmark rely on propellant to be effective.

Macron added that the world has changed with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and said that won’t end even if the war ends tomorrow.

“There’s been a massive rearmament in Russia in recent times, and because you can see military spending and orders increasing all over Europe, and geopolitics changing all over the world,” Macron said. “We’ve set off for a long-term geopolitical and geostrategic shift, in which the defense industry will play a growing role.”

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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