Tuesday, July 21, 2020

U.S. Uranium Production Fell to an All-time Annual Low in 2019"

Just a heads-up, no trade here. And since uranium only trades physical if you want to go long you have to store it in one of the spare bedrooms or the garages, either of which can lead to marital discord.
From the Energy Information Administration, July 17:

U.S. uranium concentrate production
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review and Domestic Uranium Production Report

The United States produced 174,000 pounds of uranium concentrate (U3O8) in 2019, 89% less than in 2018 and the lowest amount produced since the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) data series began in 1949. Domestic U3O8 production has declined since its peak of 43.7 million pounds in 1980.

Producing uranium concentrate, U3O8, is the first step in nuclear fuel production. After the uranium ore is mined, it goes through a milling process that extracts uranium from the ore, producing uranium concentrate (U3O8). Although the original ore contains as little as 0.1% uranium, U3O8 is usually more than 80% uranium. U3O8 is then processed at conversion and enrichment facilities, where it’s made into reactor fuel pellets. Fuel fabrication plants assemble the fuel pellets into fuel rods for use in commercial nuclear reactors.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the United States introduced incentives and trade policies encouraging the growth of domestic uranium production. After these policies ended in the 1980s, domestic production began to decline. Other countries, such as Canada and Australia, have more accessible, high-quality uranium deposits, allowing them to produce U3O8 at a lower cost than the United States. Since 1990, purchased imports of U3O8 have exceeded domestic U3O8 production each year.
U.S. annual domestic production and foreign imports of uranium
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Owners and operators of commercial nuclear power reactors buy uranium in the form of U3O8, uranium hexafluoride, or enriched uranium, or a combination of these forms. When the uranium is purchased earlier in the fuel cycle, such as in the form of U3O8, owners and operators pay for conversion, enrichment, and fabrication into fuel rods. In 2019, the fuel assemblies, or structured groups of fuel rods, loaded into U.S. commercial reactors contained 43.2 million pounds of U3O8. About 9% of this amount was U.S.-origin, and 91% was foreign-origin....