SNC-Lavalin has signed a deal with two Chinese companies on a joint venture that will see Canadian Candu reactor technology used to build nuclear plants in China and possibly elsewhere.

The Montreal-based engineering company said in a release Thursday it will partner with China National Nuclear Corp. and Shanghai Electric Group Co. Ltd. to place two "design centres" — one in Canada and another in China — which will develop at least two nuclear power plants in China using the most advanced version of the Candu reactor technology that SNC bought from the Canadian government for $15 million in 2011.

"This is a game changer in the nuclear industry, and a great endorsement of our expertise and ... nuclear technology from the largest nuclear market in the world," SNC-Lavalin Power's president Sandy Taylor said in a release.

The Advanced Fuel Candu reactor (AFCR) will use recycled uranium fuel from existing reactors to produce power. Each AFCR can use the fuel of four light-water reactors to generate up to 6 million megawatt-hours of electricity without needing any new natural uranium fuel, SNC said. Roughly speaking, that's enough to power 4 million Chinese households every year.

The deal comes on the same day Ottawa announced a tentative agreement over two trade disputes between Canada and China, involving Canadian beef and canola.