The United States imports a significant amount of uranium from Russia, and the recent tensions between the two countries have led to concerns about the stability of this supply. If mining operations in the United States were to increase, it could provide a more stable and secure source of uranium for the country.
But what exactly goes into importing uranium into the US? And is importing uranium impacting our economy? In this guide, we’re here to clear the air about the process.
Global Uranium Stats
Uranium is a radioactive element that is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. It is found in nature in trace amounts and is mined in many countries around the world.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has agreed to limit uranium imports from Russia in order to prevent Russia from having too much control over the uranium market. The agreement caps uranium imports from Russia at 15 percent from 2028 to 2040.
U.S. nuclear power plants purchased approximately 49 million pounds of uranium in 2020, with the majority of it coming from abroad. The average price per pound was $33. The top four suppliers of uranium were Russia (16%), Canada (22%), Kazakhstan (22%), and Australia (11%).
Why Does the US Import Uranium?
Uranium is a nonrenewable resource, meaning it cannot be replenished. The United States has very few uranium reserves of its own, and it must import uranium to meet the demand for nuclear power. Not only that, but uranium is not found in large concentrations, so it must be mined. The United States has uranium mines mostly found in the western states.
In 2020, Russian uranium cost an average of $25 per pound. This was cheaper than uranium from Kazakhstan ($33 per pound), Canada ($35 per pound), or Australia ($39 per pound).
The price of uranium that the company that owns the Canyon Mine needs in order to start mining is significantly higher than the price of uranium that is typically sold on the market.
How Does Uranium Importation Impact the US?
1) US Local Uranium Market Dwindling
In order to have a secure and reliable domestic uranium supply, the United States needs to both produce and import uranium. The United States has significant uranium resources, but these resources are not currently being mined.
Other countries have cheaper and higher-quality uranium deposits than the United States, making it difficult for American uranium mining companies to compete.
Uranium companies in the United States are asking for government help in the form of a strategic uranium reserve. This reserve would subsidize U.S. uranium producers and help them to compete against foreign companies. It could also provide an economic boost for uranium operations.
2) Native Americans Opposing Uranium Mining
The uranium industry has had a negative impact on many First Nations in the Western United States, especially the Navajo Nation. There are over 500 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo lands that have contaminated the soil and water. The Navajo people have suffered greatly from the uranium industry, and they continue to fight for their rights.
The uranium industry has a long and complicated history in the United States. It has been both a blessing and a curse for the country. The future of the uranium industry in the United States is uncertain, but it is clear that the industry will continue to have a significant impact on the country.
If you want to support domestic US uranium mining, enCore Energy Corp has you covered. We are a domestic uranium developer hoping to improve the US uranium economy. Learn more about our projects on our website.