Limited U.S. Uranium Reserves24 Mar

U.S. Uranium Reserves

The quantity of U.S. uranium reserves depends on the forward cost of uranium. By the end of 2008, U.S. uranium reserves totaled 1,227 million pounds of U3O8 at a maximum forward cost of up to $100 per pound U3O8. Based on uranium consumption in nuclear power plants from 1999 to 2008, there is approximately 23 years worth of demand at a maximum forward cost of $100 per pound.

The availability of U.S. uranium reserves depends on market value and becomes less with lower forward cost (for example, 10 years worth of demand at $50 per pound). Since the U.S. currently imports nearly 90 percent of its uranium, domestic uranium reserves will decline slower.

Foreign Dependence on Uranium: The pie chart shows sources of  imported uranium for 2010. Only 8 percent comes from the United States, a very troubling statistic when one thinks about energy security. The following table shows the production of uranium in various countries. The U.S. is ranked 8th. Glancing at the list of the remaining seven countries, one would consider Canada and Australia as reliable sources of uranium, but not necessarily the other five.

Production from mines in 2009 (country—tons of uranium)
1. Kazakhstan—14,020
2. Canada—10,173
3. Australia— 7,982
4. Nambia—4,626
5. Russia—3,564
6. Niger—3,243
7. Uzbekistan—2,429
8. United States—1,453

U.S. Government Plan

The Office of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy has published the following goals regarding nuclear energy:

  1. extend useful life of existing nuclear power plants
  2. enable new plants to be built
  3. reduce the carbon footprint of transportation and industry
  4. develop a sustainable fuel cycle
  5. prevent proliferation

Business Development Issues

There is no U.S. policy that addresses the fact that the U.S. has limited uranium reserves and must import uranium. Will new nuclear plants (goal 2 in the aforementioned plan) be even more dependent on imported uranium?

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4 Responses to “Limited U.S. Uranium Reserves”

  1. Questions about the American-Russian Arctic Oil Deal | JHEverson Consulting Reply

    […] arrangement? If the United States balks, Russia might remind the United States that it receives 23 percent (6) of its uranium imports from […]

  2. New England Nuclear Power: A Time of Reckoning | JHEverson Consulting Reply

    […] Imports: In my blog post of March 24, 2011, I wrote that the United States imports more than 90 percent of its uranium needs, where 23 percent […]

  3. The Reality of U.S. Energy Policy: Foreign Dependency, Insignificant Renewable Energies, and Potentially Unsafe Nuclear Plants | JHEverson Consulting Reply

    […] – Imported Uranium: The United States imports nearly 90 percent of its uranium needs. Russia supplies 23 percent, while Kazakhstan provides 15 […]

  4. The Problem with Nuclear Power Plants and What To Do About It | JHEverson Consulting Reply

    […] Ninety percent of the uranium used in nuclear power plants is imported with 15 percent from Kazakhstan and 23 percent from Russia. These sources are not necessarily […]

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.

Contact

For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.