Uranium output forecast to hit 76 493 t in 2020 – report

26th January 2017 By: Henry Lazenby - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – New analysis by research and consulting firm GlobalData has forecast global uranium output to rise at a compound yearly growth rate of 4.3%, to 76 493 t in 2020.

The company’s latest report states that growth in production is needed to meet upcoming demand from new reactors.

There are 22 new reactors scheduled for completion in 2017, with a total capacity of 22 444 MW. This includes eight reactors in China with a combined capacity of 8 510 MW, two reactors in South Korea with a combined capacity of 2 680 MW, two reactors in Russia with a combined capacity of 2 199 MW, and four reactors in Japan with a combined capacity of 3 598 MW.

Global uranium consumption is forecast to rise by 5%, to reach 88 500 t of uranium oxide this year. The major expansions to nuclear capacity are projected to occur in China, India, Russia and South Korea over the next two years. The US is forecast to remain the largest producer of nuclear power in the short term, with the recent completion of the 1 200 MW Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor, in Tennessee, Global Data said.

“Commercial operations at the Cigar Lake project in Canada commenced in 2014, with an annual uranium metal capacity of 6 900 t. The project produced 4 340 t of uranium in 2015, compared with 130 t in 2014. Meanwhile, production at the Four Mile project, in Australia, rose from 750 t in 2014 to 990 t in 2015,” GlobalData head of research and analysis for mining Cliff Smee stated.

By contrast, production from the US fell by 32% in 2015, while in Namibia it decreased by 20%. “This was due to respective declines of 33% each at the Smith Ranch-Highland and Crow Butte mines in the US, and falls of 20% and 13.6% at the Rossing and Langer Heinrich mines in Namibia,” Smee added.

Spot uranium prices continue to rise this year and analysts believe prices have bottomed after major producer Kazakhstan said earlier this year it would curtail its uranium output by about 10%, and on growing optimism that shuttered Japanese reactors would finally be restarted.