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)
3. Australia— 7,982
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:
- extend useful life of existing nuclear power plants
- enable new plants to be built
- reduce the carbon footprint of transportation and industry
- develop a sustainable fuel cycle
- 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?Tags: Foreign Dependence, Production, United States, Uranium, Uranium Imports, Uranium Reserves