Uranium demand likely to rise

DEV RHANDAWA Although uranium is demanded by hundreds of power stations, it is sourced in too small a number of mines

ANTHONY MILEWSKI China is significantly expanding its relatively small nuclear platform, currently building 26 new nuclear reactors

3rd April 2015

By: Dylan Stewart

Creamer Media Reporter


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Several arrows point upwards when one questions what is likely to happen to the demand for uranium, says Canada-based uranium exploration company Fission Uranium director Anthony Milewski.

The majority of uranium mined is used for nuclear power fuel and, as of March 12, the World Nuclear Association reported that 69 new nuclear reactors were under construction, while another 184 and 312 were in the planning and proposal stages respectively.

These potential projects would double the current 435 operable civil nuclear reactors worldwide.

China is vastly expanding its comparatively small nuclear platform by building 26 reactors to add to its current 23 and planning for another 64, while South Africa has proposed eight reactors, but has not yet entered into the building or planning stages of any.

In addition, two of Japan’s nuclear reactors are set to be turned back on in June, having been severely damaged by an earthquake-triggered tsunami, which resulted in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Shaky Supply

Meanwhile, Fission Uranium CEO Dev Randhawa says, although uranium is demanded by hundreds of power stations, the commodity is sourced from too small a number of mines.

He points out that 8% of the world’s uranium is supplied by two mines that have had significant setbacks.

In February, a fire broken out at the product recovery plant of global mining and metals major Rio Tinto’s Rossing mine, in Namibia, while global resources company BHP Billiton had a major electrical fault, which damaged three mills at its Olympic Dam mine, in Australia, also in February.

Moreover, Randhawa argues that much of the world uranium supply comes from countries which he believes to be subject to political instability such as Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Milewski reckons that political instability in Eastern Europe makes Russia – as a major supplier of reprocessed, secondary uranium – a risky option for some utilities.

Worldwide uranium production is currently 59 673 t/y. Kazakhstan supplies more than double the uranium of any other one country, with Canada and Australia the second- and third-largest producers respectively.

As of March 2, the price of uranium was at $39.25/lb, up from its low of $28/lb in May 2014. The current price is, however, still lower than half of its all-time peak of $140/lb in February 2011.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor



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